It was only a few years ago that Larry Brown had the Bobcats in the playoffs, but Charlotte is poised to become the worst team in league history and the coach had some thoughts Wednesday on what went wrong during his tenure there.
Brown said on "The Dan Patrick Show" that he experienced communication problems with team owner Michael Jordan and then was devastated when he was fired.
"It's one thing for me to get fired, but I have four or five assistants and they're out there not able to work," said the 71-year-old Brown, who was named SMU coach this week. "And it was the worst. And when your hero fires you... I just couldn't believe it. You know I love the guy, think he's brilliant, but he's around people who don't have a clue. And they won't challenge him. And the more you challenge him, the more you get from him.
"I was sick about it. I haven't spoken to him since. I don't like seeing what's going on."
Later Wednesday, Jordan took issue with Brown's take on the situation.
"It's absolutely wrong that I don't want guys to challenge me. And the people who say that aren't in the room," Jordan told the Charlotte Observer.
"The idea that people can't do that is just wrong. Curtis (Polk, team vice chairman) has worked with me for over 20 years and he's never had a problem telling me, 'no.' Rod (Higgins, president of basketball operations) has no problem telling me no. Fred (Whitfield, team president) has no problem telling me 'no.' And Rich (Cho, the team's general manager) is about as direct and candid a person as you'll ever meet."
In 2009-10, Brown guided the Bobcats to a 44-38 record and their only playoff appearance. After a slow start the next season, Jordan replaced Brown with Paul Silas. That team finished 34-48.
"I'm sick about it because we made the playoffs the first time they ever made the playoffs. We got rid of Raymond Felton without getting anything back -- one of the greatest kids I ever coached in my life. We got rid of Tyson Chandler who only played 50 games or so for us."
Brown says it's not a lack of knowledge of the game that hurts Jordan.
"When I was able to visit with him and pick his brain, he knows, but he's got people around him that just make you sick," Brown said to Patrick. "And it was not comfortable. It was almost like there were spies wondering what you were doing and getting back to him. I should have spent more time face to face with Michael because I do see the passion. I think he's hurt right now.
"We all make bad decisions. This draft thing is not a perfect science, but when I talk to him about players, you know strengths and weaknesses, what we need to do to be successful, he's right on point. But he has all these other people that will get in the way, and you can't do it like that."
Jordan said he wasn't surprised that Brown was critical of him.
"I imagine he was pretty upset we chose to change directions," Jordan said, according to the Observer.
This season's Charlotte team is 7-58, has lost 22 straight and needs to defeat the Knicks on Thursday to avoid going into the record books as the owner of the league's worst-ever winning percentage. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers hold the mark at .110, going 9-73 in that full season, but a 7-59 finish in this strike-shortened season would leave the Bobcats at .106.
"This was going to be a trying year -- we knew that," Jordan said to the Observer. "But did we want to chase the most Ping-Pong balls (in the May 30 draft lottery)? No way."
"Ever since I've owned the team (starting in March 2010), I think we've made some very positive moves on the business side. We had to make a difficult decision to turn over the (on-court) talent.
"This year the talent we had didn't respond, but that doesn't cause me to turn my back on the plan."
The Bobcats have lost 10 straight on the road and haven't won anywhere since beating Toronto at home March 17. One of Charlotte's rare wins, though, came against Orlando on March 6, a 100-84 home victory that ended a six-game skid in the series.
It was Charlotte's ninth win in 31 games against the Magic.
The Bobcats fell to 2-13 all-time in Orlando with a 96-89 loss Jan. 17 in their lone visit this season.
Jordan knows that he is held to a different standard than most owners.
"My success will be judged differently. ... I've come to accept I'll be scrutinized more than any other owner," Jordan said, according to the Observer. "I know now that I have to have a tough skin about these things."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.