UPDATE: The New York Daily News says Larry Brown plans to talk to Herb Williams and James Dolan, signs this could all be official very quickly.
I'm not a big fan of The New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden. He has great access to players, and he's interested in a lot of the same topics I am, but his rambling and unfocused commentary rarely ceases to confuse when it should elucidate.
But in today's paper Rhoden does a tremendous job, with a fantastic bit of history about Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas.
In 2003, Thomas spent the summer helping Brown prepare for the Athens Olympics the next year. At the time, Thomas was the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. Thomas was called back from Puerto Rico, where he was watching the national team, and fired by the Pacers.
Soon after, Thomas, stunned and jobless, received an invitation from Brown and John Calipari, the head coach at the University of Memphis. They wanted him to attend an invitation-only retreat that they were conducting in Memphis.
"When we got back from Puerto Rico, Larry and Cal called me and invited me to Memphis to share some ideas on basketball," Thomas said yesterday.
Thomas was being initiated into Brown's basketball family, a sprawling network of college and professional coaches.
At the lowest point of his professional career, Thomas said, the two-and-a-half-day retreat was a desperately needed life raft.
The annual coaching conclave has become quite the hot ticket. Herb Williams has even attended, which, according to Thomas, is why Larry Brown is being so careful about not wanting to push Williams aside crudely.
In related news, if you haven't heard already, Stephon Marbury went on the radio with Stephen A. Smith (on New York's ESPN 1050) yesterday and endorsed Larry Brown. As re-told by Howard Beck in The New York Times:
"I'm not going to make this complicated. It's a no-brainer. If Herb was the coach, I think with our team, we'd still be good. Larry Brown, he brings something totally different to the table, because of his experience. And everyone knows that experience rules."
Told of Marbury's comments, Brown returned the good vibrations.
"He knows how I feel about him," Brown said of Marbury. "I don't think Isiah would be talking to me if he didn't feel Stephon and I had a good relationship."
The way Larry Brown is buttering up Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, and Herb Williams in the media, there is no way Brown won't be the Knicks coach very shortly.