Trans. Oct 31 9:18 ET (Oct 31 9:18 ET ) Larry Brown spent six years running the Philadelphia 76ers. Former Philadelphia general manager Billy King would take offense to us pointing out that Larry ran the Sixers, but at the end of the working day Larry Brown and Larry Brown’s ideas ran the 76ers from 1997 through 2003. He took those Sixers to the playoffs in 1999, which was a bit of a surprise, and led the team to the NBA Finals in 2001 – a piece of work that in the minds of most made up for just about everything else he did with that particular franchise. Larry Brown acted as a coach and de facto GM along the way. He salted the squad’s crops prior to his Larry Brown-styled flight to Detroit in 2003, leaving it with a GM in King that made a series of Larry Brown-styled win-now moves over and over again in the wake of Larry Brown’s departure. Yes, Allen Iverson crossed over Tyronn Lue and the 76ers took Game 1 of the Finals in 2001, but by and large Brown’s whole time in Philadelphia was just a series of penny-(barely) wise and pound-foolish maneuvers. (We’ll get into those later.) Brown, currently relegated to coaching at Southern Methodist University after years’ worth of attempts at getting a job running the 76ers front office, unleashed on the NBA’s worst team in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday . Taking aim at fish in a barrel (in the same way, we admittedly are in response), Brown teed off on a Philly front office that is making NBA history in willingly punting two consecutive seasons in order to create a groundswell of young talent and cap space. From his rant : "I hate what's going on in Philly," Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday. "They don't have a basketball person in the organization. It makes me sick to my stomach. "These analytics, they don't mean squat to me. Throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. To say that these analytics guys have the answer is crazy. It doesn't apply to basketball. Everybody uses the data you get, but that's what coaching is. Maybe it will work, I don't know. But it's a shame what those fans are going through waiting to see if it will." […] “You get assets by developing young players, draft picks, and moving contracts. But how much teaching is going on? "What they are doing to that city to me is mind-boggling. That's the greatest basketball city in the world with its fans and you want them to sit back and watch you lose." So many … so many things. To start, I’m sure Sixers coach Brett Brown, who helped develop several San Antonio Spurs bench units as a longtime assistant coach under Gregg Popovich, doesn’t like to hear Larry Brown musing about “how much teaching is going on.” To end it: Come off it, Larry Brown. The 76ers are in this position because too many years of Larry Brown-esque moves salted the team’s crops. When Brown saw another shiny object and left the franchise high and dry in 2003 in order to move to Detroit (a move that lasted all of two seasons before he left again, prior to sticking with the Knicks for one whole year), he won the team’s front office and ownership over on a brand of franchise-making that did the team’s fans no favors. Those Sixers refused to rebuild. Giant contracts were handed out to role players like Kenny Thomas. Bad contracts were turned into players like Chris Webber, on his last legs. Allen Iverson was turned into Andre Miller, because that move was totally going to put the Sixers over the top. Elton Brand was given huge money after an Achilles tear. Re-treads like Doug Collins, Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski were allowed to run the show and shoot for 45 wins. It was a joke. A hoop crime of the highest order. “Basketball person” after “basketball person” (to use Larry’s terminology) was allowed to run the show, and the Sixers stunk as a result. The team’s top showing was a second-round playoff appearance in 2012, only pitched because Derrick Rose tore his ACL and Joakim Noah sprained his ankle in a six-game opening-round win over the Chicago Bulls. All while working with a massive payroll. For more than a decade between Allen Iverson’s pathetic “practice?” press conference and Doug Collins’ equally-as-pathetic shot at relevance in dealing for Andrew Bynum, the 76ers were the very picture of boring-as-hell mediocrity. Larry Brown, working through various gigs and attempting two different coups in New York and Charlotte as he tried to take on a role as personnel chief, apparently stewed. In the wake of Brown’s comments, Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil tossed this out on Thursday : “You know, after seeing Larry Brown’s SMU team in the Final Four this year it was tough to hear those kind of comments,” O’Neil said on the radio show. “Was he in the Final Four this year?” When asked by (radio host Angelo) Cataldi if O’Neil was taking a shot at the last Sixers coach to take a team to the NBA Finals, the Sixers’ CEO kept going. “How are they doing? How are they gonna be this year?” O’Neil said. “Nah, you know, I think it’s hard for people not in the market to understand what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. I think the good thing about Philadelphia is that the fans certainly get it.” And, of course, Larry Brown had to “fire ” (because he always quits before being fired) back: Well, ask Scott where SMU was when I took the job. We were 315th and two years later, we’re a top-25 team. And who is Scott O’Neil by the way? I mean, what is his basketball background? And he ought to look at how I care about the team rather than criticize my job and what I’ve done. Look at the Sixers where they were when I took that job and where they are today. How many coaches have been there since I left? You know I’ll talk to Scott O’Neil every day and be a resource for him every day. (Full disclosure: I wrote for HoopsTV.com, a website Scott O’Neil owned, back in 2000. Trust me when I say that is hardly tugging me toward bias in this sad, little slap-fight.) Yes, the 76ers stunk when Larry Brown took over. They had the Rookie of the Year (Iverson) and the second pick in the 1997 draft, which they used in part to to deal for Tim Thomas, Eric Montross, Jim Jackson and Anthony Parker. Parker, who later went on to work his way into perhaps the best American expatriate playing overseas before coming back to the NBA, was quickly let go. Jackson was turned into expiring contracts, and Thomas was turned into the aging Tyrone Hill. Eric Montross, throughout his Philadelphia career, remained a pillar of salt. The team entertained us all by making the Finals in 2001, but that was in a miserable Eastern Conference bracket; one that saw the Sixers overwhelming a Milwaukee Bucks squad featuring Scott Williams at starting center. Brown initiated a litany of win-now moves that, outside of developing a former Seattle SuperSonic afterthought in Eric Snow, did little to help the franchise’s long-term goals. Via Liberty Ballers, Brown’s revisionist history didn’t stop there : "Let me explain something to you. I inherited San Antonio, we won 21 games in my first year. Won 56 the second year, but here's the deal. I had five guys on my team that won 21 games that had career years. You understand that?" Yeah, I understand that. Every kid worth his weight in trading cards back then knew that those Spurs were in the tank because something called a “David Robinson” had Navy duty during your first year in San Antonio, and the combination of Robinson’s rookie year and the addition of Sean Elliott (drafted third overall after Brown’s first year) led to the uptick. I know the hotels aren’t that great when you travel between SMU games, in comparison to NBA standards, but this is so transparent that it borders on saddening. Larry Brown wants to run an NBA team. He doesn’t want to bother with scouting or salary cap maneuvering, but he wants to work as the el jefe at the top of an NBA squad. Understandably, because his family
The Scoop:Brand gives Atlanta 15 guaranteed contracts, joining a frontcourt that features Al Horford, Pero Antic, Paul Millsap, Mike Scott, Mike Muscala and Adreian Payne. EB started 15 games at center last year following injuries to Horford and Antic, but the 15-year veteran isn't likely to help fantasy owners in a backup role this season.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s release of Danny Ferry’s actual recorded words confirms what Adrian Wojnarowski already reported on Wednesday : Ferry was more than certainly the brains behind the needless and insulting comments about then-free agent forward Luol Deng, and the entire Atlanta Hawks franchise is in flux as a result. When I navel-gazed regarding Ferry’s future with the Hawks and the league he’s called home since returning stateside in 1990, I mentioned the absence of leadership as the most damning reason why Ferry should not continue with the team. To relay those thoughts and perceptions, be they his or the words of some witless scout, was so far off base that it still defies belief. It defies belief no matter how many times we’ve had to re-read or eventually hear the words that I won’t waste your time in relaying once again. What are worth relaying are the words of two of Ferry’s contemporaries in the general manager market. Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King have both known and have worked with Danny Ferry for years, and both spoke out on Thursday in regards to the thought process that leads to scouting reports like these, Ferry’s character as a person and professional, and his future. The Nigeria-born Ujiri, in an expertly-penned op-ed piece for The Globe and Mail , gets the first nod: R. C. Buford is the GM of the San Antonio Spurs. He was one of the first NBA executives to come to our Basketball Without Borders camps a decade ago. That same year, he adopted a young man from Cameroon. Wayne Embry is an adviser for our team. Forty years ago, he was the first African-American GM of an NBA team. Both of these men, whom I trust so much, are close to Danny. They have nothing but great things to say about him. The league is a small world. Other people I’ve spoken to who know Danny well say that he has never done anything they’ve seen to suggest he holds racist views. I spoke to Danny myself about this. He started off by apologizing to Luol. He apologized to me and apologized for any insult he’d offered to African people in general. He explained the incident as best he could to me. There are some things about that conversation I would like to keep between the two of us, but I came away feeling like I’d understood what he had to say. Here is what I have to say: I have no idea what is happening in the Atlanta Hawks organization, but I do know how the scouting world works. We all have different ways of sharing information about players and different vocabularies to do so. It crossed a line here. That said, we are all human. We are all vulnerable. We all make mistakes. You discover a person’s true character in their ability to learn from and then move on from those mistakes. One of the truly important things we must learn is how to forgive. Via Grantland’s Zach Lowe , here are King’s statements: King on Ferry: “I have known him since we were 15 years old. He is like a brother to me and he is the furthest thing from a racist.” — Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 12, 2014 The issue here is that nobody I know has called Danny Ferry a racist. I’m sure he’s been referred to as much in message boards I don’t frequent and comment sections I don’t peruse, but even with that highly-dubious Bonzi Wells incident from 2002 still lingering , I cannot recall any NBA voice of substance referring to Ferry in such strict terms. We do know that he’s prejudiced, because to impugn an entire continent as sneaky and backhanded by definition of its name alone shows a shocking lack of knowledge and character. We do know that he failed as a leader, because no voice of the basketball end of the Hawks franchise should be either relaying or (more likely) thinking and then expressing these thoughts as a way of describing a potential employee. I cannot recall who, but someone on Twitter recently wondered aloud as to what a scouting report in someone like Ferry’s hands would say for someone like Michael Beasley. Luol Deng is widely respected and the recipient of the NBA’s Citizenship Award, and Beasley is a career-wasting flameout that is looking to join his fourth NBA team in two calendar years right now, with little luck so far and with training camp just weeks away. The issue with that (appropriate) query is that good leaders don’t need to reduce themselves to even nastier language to describe someone like Beasley, who didn’t even bother to show some sort of care and concern for his game last season even while being gifted the opportunity to spell LeBron James and play deep into June with the Miami Heat. The same goes for Deng, even if he does have some batch of mitigating factors Atlanta Hawk owners should worry about. Mitigating factors we’re unaware of. (Though if it is true that Deng sometimes acts as an anonymous source for the press while denying as much, can you blame him? This is the guy that watched as the Chicago Bulls publicly scolded for not playing on a broken leg, before having to get an outside opinion that confirmed that, yeah, Luol Deng has a broken leg. This is a guy whose Chicago front office stood by silently while their coach – who knew exactly what was wrong with Luol Deng at the time – referred to his career-threatening botched spinal tap as “flu-like symptoms.” This is the guy that had to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, before the franchise got its head out of its tails and dumped the Chris Grant/Mike Brown regime.) Danny Ferry should have found some way to discuss Luol Deng’s merits and demerits and the sometimes beneficial overlap of the two in ways far better than the ones we read about on Wednesday , and heard on Thursday . Whether or not this misstep is a fireable offense in a vacuum is up for debate. This didn’t happen in a vacuum, though, and there are feelings to consider and a franchise’s future to think about. Donald Sterling wasn’t pushed out of the NBA because he’s a racist – the league has known about his line of thinking and discriminatory practices for decades. He was pushed out of the NBA because he was bad for business. The Hawks may have just signed Elton Brand, a solid pickup that shares a university affiliation with Ferry, but that doesn’t mean Ferry won’t be bad for their particular brand of business – be it recruiting players, fans, or potential owners – in many ways moving forward. Ujiri and King were right to talk about forgiveness, and after the initial shock and anger wore off, I think most of us have already forgiven Danny Ferry for what appear to be his own dumb thoughts and expressions. What matters now is the cold, hard world of creating a winning team and (more importantly) securing profits. In that regard, Ferry’s future is out of forgiveness’s hands. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops