As of Wednesday morning, the second-oldest coach in NBA history took the helm of the second-youngest team in the league.
Memphis Grizzlies Majority Owner Michael Heisley and President of Basketball Operations Jerry West introduced veteran coach and television analyst Hubie Brown, 69, as the teams sixth and latest coach at a noon press conference yesterday. The press conference immediately followed a two-hour, closed morning practice in which Grizzlies players got their first taste of a basketball legend that West has referred to as the ultimate teacher and a disciplinarian.
One-time coach of the ABA Kentucky Colonels, where he won the league title, and the NBAs Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks, Brown has been out of coaching for the past 15 years, serving during that time as a ubiquitous television analyst for Turner Network Television, where his annual work on the stations NBA draft broadcasts have earned a cult-following among a generation of fans who never really knew him as a coach.
During his opening press conference, Brown was part doddering professor and part sharp-minded raconteur. Looking every bit his age, he nevertheless captivating the local media with what felt like a freewheeling, impromptu clinic on basketball history and philosophy. His commanding presence served as a noticeable contrast to the low-key (no pun intended) style of predecessor Sidney Lowe, who resigned his post Tuesday morning following an abysmal 0-8 start.
Brown stressed three points for turning the Grizzlies around: chemistry, defense, and style. All are obviously key areas of improvement needed for a team that, through 8 games, played poor team basketball, gave up a league-worst 102 points per game, and found themselves forced into the playing style of their opponents rather then imposing their own will and style on the opposition.
Any team worth a grain of salt has a distinct style, Brown said, and our Bible will be organization, discipline, and a commitment to offense and defensive philosophies that work.
Browns first move in putting his program in place during the teams three-day break before their Friday night home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves was to restructure the coaching staff. Brown has retained Grizzlies assistant Lionel Hollins, but has also added three new assistants to the bench. Grizzlies Director of Player Personnel Tony Barone, a long-time Brown associate, will move to the bench, as will Browns son, Brendan Brown, who was already a member of the Grizzlies scouting staff. Brown is also bringing in longtime coach and scout Hal Wissel as the teams primary shooting coach.
The presence of Browns son, along with that of close friends West and Barone, gave Brown a particular interest in the Grizzlies progress, the coach said, revealing that hed watched all eight Grizzlies games on Direct TV.
Brown also reminisced briefly about games he coached in Memphis during his stint in the ABA. Im sorry that it took so long for an area that loves the game so much to get the game back, Brown said. So I feel a special obligation [to Memphis].
But Brown also pleaded for patience. He and his staff have two days to install a system, and then have to play six games in nine days, three of them on the road. This quick changeover wont be easy for anyone, but Grizzlies fans should know a lot more about there team after a couple of weeks under Brown.
Today is a new day for every one of those kids in there, Brown said, in reference to the players in the adjacent locker room. Nobodys got a guaranteed spot here. But well know after this 10-day period what is working and what isnt.