John Smallwood: Larry Brown back to the Sixers? It makes sense

IF YOU’RE running the 76ers, it’s easy to see why a Larry Brown return
would make sense.

The greatest moments in recent franchise history came from 1997-98 to
2002-03, when Brown led the Sixers to the playoffs five times in six
seasons, including a trip to the 2001 NBA Finals.

So if you are management and you’ve just watched the Sixers go through their worst season in 14 years while hemorrhaging at the ticket office, a trip down memory lane could be real attractive.

I don’t know how much merit there is to yesterday’s report in the New York Post that Brown, who has two seasons left on his contract with Charlotte, has received permission from Bobcats owner Michael Jordan to return to the Sixers.

Contacted by the Daily News’ Phil Jasner, Brown denied interest in a return to the Sixers. He called it "old news," based on Jordan saying he would always allow Brown to seek another job if it was best for his family.

With the Bobcats in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, Brown would be expected to dismiss interest in the Sixers. Still, Brown has denied interest in virtually every job he has had before taking it. He reportedly had intermediaries inquire about the Los Angeles Clippers job, and there was speculation that it was done to motivate the Sixers. And everything about a return to the area where his wife and children reside full-time makes sense.

Brown, who has coached 13 NBA, ABA and college teams, was genuinely happy when he was running the Sixers organization – maybe as happy as he’s ever been. Ultimately, his love-hate relationship with Allen Iverson – and the realization that the 2001 NBA Finals was as good as it was going to get – triggered his traveling instincts.

So why would Ed Snider be interested in a guy who already jilted him once? Well, besides the success that Brown had while running the Sixers, Snider likes him, considers him a good friend. It might not be the Bobby Clarke kind of love, but there is a reason Snider let Brown skip out of town to Detroit without demanding any kind of compensation.

Snider has been in Philadelphia a long time. He knows it’s going to take a name coach like Brown to even begin to convince fans there is hope for the future.

If Brown is interested in a return, Snider will likely use whatever influence he has remaining to make it happen.

So what would a Brown return mean? Obviously, it would be an immediate upgrade on the sideline. I don’t think Jordan is as bad a coach as this season seems to indicate, but he’s never going to end up in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, where Brown already has been inducted.

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