Scott Says

Basketball coach Larry Brown and the art of always having your hand on the doorknob

I’m outta here! Larry Brown left his job as SMU’s basketball coach Friday after a contract dispute. Brown is shown here in his days coaching the Charlotte Bobcats (2008-10).
I’m outta here! Larry Brown left his job as SMU’s basketball coach Friday after a contract dispute. Brown is shown here in his days coaching the Charlotte Bobcats (2008-10). JEFF SINER - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

If you were surprised by Larry Brown's sudden resignation at SMU on Friday, you have never paid attention to the way the basketball coach conducts himself.

Brown, 75, is a basketball Hall of Famer with a list of accomplishments too long to name. The number of places he has coached is also too long to name.

In 2005, shortly after Brown split up with the Detroit Pistons, former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot was writing a letter to his old basketball coach Dean Smith. Vinroot had once been Brown's college roommate at North Carolina, and he included four words in the letter about Brown.

"There he goes again," Vinroot wrote.

Brown has coached everywhere and left everywhere -- sometimes run out on a rail, sometimes of his own accord, but always leaving.

Davidson (where Brown coached so briefly that he never directed an actual game) and the Charlotte Bobcats (40 years later) were among his many stops. Brown quit at Davidson. The Bobcats pushed him out.

Hired in 2008 to coach the Charlotte Bobcats by Michael Jordan, Larry Brown lasted until early in the 2010-11 season. His overall Charlotte record: 88-104 in the regular season and 0-4 in the playoffs.

Vinroot knew Brown well in college. Vinroot was junior- and senior-class president at Chapel Hill in the 1960s, and Brown served as his vice president on both occasions. As Vinroot told me in 2005: "Larry is likable. He’s charming. He’s a great coach. He does not take criticism well, although he gives it out very well. At the slightest turn of events – a critical press or owner or general manager – Larry begins to look for a way out. For him, life is either perfect, or he’s outta there."

At SMU -- over a contract dispute that involved Brown wanting a longer deal -- Brown is "outta there" once again. He leaves behind a program that had to self-impose a postseason ban last season because of academic issues (no surprise there, as any Kansas or UCLA fan could tell you). Brown was also suspended for the first nine games of last season.

What I'm most surprised is that people continue to hire Brown, thinking they can somehow change him. Surely, at 75, he's done coaching now.

Isn't he?

Laettner owes Stewart millions: Somewhat lost in the shuffle of this newsy, tragic week was the nugget that Panthers Pro Bowl running back Jonathan Stewart says former Duke basketball star Christian Laettner owes him millions.

Five of Laettner's creditors have started involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against Laettner, who lives in Florida and whose venture into the business world has left a trail of debt and creditors. One of those creditors is Stewart, who said in the bankruptcy filing that Laettner owes him $3.629 million. At this point, it is unclear what the relationship between Stewart and Laettner is and if Stewart invested money into one of Laettner's specific projects.

ICMYI Department: After hundreds of current players' votes were tabulated, the NFL Network came up with its annual "Top 100" list. There were seven Panthers voted onto the list: running back Jonathan Stewart (86); center Ryan Kalil (79); defensive tackle Kawann Short (58); linebacker Thomas Davis (54); tight end Greg Olsen (38); linebacker Luke Kuechly (7) and quarterback Cam Newton (1). The Panthers are going to have a hard time playing the "we-get-no-respect" card after this, but I'm sure coach Ron Rivera is working on a way.

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