<
>

Brown, Marbury try to settle boiling controversy

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Larry Brown pulled Stephon Marbury out of a meeting and sent him a message: After days of feuding, the Knicks coach still wants his temperamental guard back next season.

"He told me he could do whatever he wants with this franchise and that he don't want to trade me," Marbury said Thursday after practice. "And that he wanted me to be here and that everything that basically went on throughout the last week was over with."

Nearly a week of fussing and verbal fighting through the media has gone on between the two, with much of it finding its way onto the back pages of the New York tabloids. The feud, though, could be simmering down.

Marbury also said it seemed clear to him that final personnel decisions would be made by Brown, not Knicks president Isiah Thomas, who has been quiet while his coach and point guard have taken potshots at each other.

Brown pulled Marbury out of a film session for their brief chat.

"He flexed a real hard juice card, I know that," Marbury said. "So he definitely made me aware of what he can do. But that doesn't scare me at all."

Marbury's salary would make him difficult to trade, anyway. Brown said he wants Marbury to return, "if he'll buy into what we're trying to do."

"I told him I just wanted him to let us coach him the rest of the year and he's not going anywhere and let's move on," Brown said. "Let's deal in the present and not in the past."

The bickering between the two began after Marbury's comments over the weekend that he needed to be more offensive minded because playing Brown's way wasn't leading to enough wins. The Knicks have one of the NBA's worst records.

Brown responded Monday night by saying he had already given Marbury more freedom than any guard he had ever coached. They kept at each other for two more days, with Marbury vowing at Wednesday's shootaround to keep talking as long as Brown did.

But Brown decided it was time to talk after watching Marbury get booed during Wednesday night's double-overtime victory over Atlanta. Marbury didn't play after the third quarter, and Brown praised his attitude while sitting on the bench.

"Basically, I told him that I appreciated the way he cheered for his teammates at the end of the game and it meant a lot," Brown said. "I was sorry that the crowd, some of the people booed him, that's never what any coach would like to see happen.

"I want to coach him and I want to make him better and I don't want him to have to go through what he's gone through. I really was proud of the way he acted," Brown said.

The relationship between Brown and Marbury has been closely watched since Brown became the Knicks coach last summer. Marbury prefers to score, while Brown has been demanding on point guards throughout his career. There were doubts the two could get along.

Brown was so unhappy with Marbury's game that he sought to have him removed from the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, though the two eventually worked out their differences and Marbury played well in Athens.

Marbury feels he's tried to play the way Brown wants him to, even though he prefers to play at a quicker tempo. He says he'll continue trying -- but not surprisingly offered no guarantees.

"I'm down for what's right," Marbury said. "Like I said, I was committed and I'm still committed to the organization, to doing exactly what he's been asking.

"He told me to play the way he wants me to play and if I don't feel like it's the right way just bear with it. And I didn't say yes and I didn't say no," he said.