Larry Brown Interview
Larry Brown Opening Statement: Training camp has been kind of unusual with these new rules, when you have a veteran team and a new coach coming in, the four days we missed were kind of difficult. But on the positive side the young kids got to play, Mehmet Okur, Tayshaun Prince and Darko Milicic, those kids are going to be a big part of our team. Training camps as gone great in terms of attitude and trying to do the right things. Weíve had an amazing amount of injuries and they seem to keep popping up. We lost Richard Hamilton last night with a broken nose. But weíre trying to build on what Rick (Carlisle) established here. He really did a great job of making these guys understand how important it is to be part of a team and how important it is to come in every day and be prepared, and theyíve done that. We won games last year because we played as a team and were a real quality defensive team, and again Rick had a lot to do with that. We lost three key players, two starters in Michael Curry and Cliff Robinson and one of our top reserves in Jon Barry, and weíre trying to figure out a way to replace them. In doing so, Tayshaun Prince and Okur, Elden Campbell, Bobby Sura and Lindsey Hunter are going to have to step up. Iím confident that they can and Iím excited about watching their progress.
Q: Do you feel the need to get in touch with Pat Croce after he took offense to remarks you made at your opening press conference in Detroit?
Brown: No. I didnít hear what he said and really donít care. I went over my press conference, and I think a lot of things were said jokingly and didnít mean to be offensive to anybody. I listen to some of the comments on WIP -- theyíre playing parts of the press conference -- and I can see where people would read into things. But if anyone was at the press conference, I think would sense how much I enjoyed Philly and how I loved working for those people. I love Pat, and Iím going to go on. My family is still living in Philadelphia. I speak to Billy (King) and Randy (Ayers) every day and I care about that franchise, but now Iím the coach of Detroit and Iím going to move on. I wouldnít be here if it wasnít for my experience in Philly.
Q: Where do you think Vince Carter is as a player right now?
Brown: I donít think heís lost anything. He hasnít been healthy. He was phenomenal this summer. He was a big part of that team and I donít think heís missed a beat. He looked healthy this summer. He looked great the last game we played against him. I think Lennyís (Wilkens) problem with him was his health. Now, Kevin OíNeill is going to get a guy who I think is capable of playing at the level he played at a few years ago, that we all expected. I think if you ask Rudy Tomjanovich, when we had him on the Olympic Team in 2000, he would tell Vince was as good as any player we had. I donít see any reason he wonít be at that level again.
Q: How good was Vince and how good can he be again?
Brown: I think he was one of the premier players in our league and I still think he is. When youíre banged up and not physically able to perform, youíre not going to play at the level weíre all accustomed to seeing him play at. Now he looks healthy to me and it seems like heís buying into what Kevin wants him to do. Iím confident heíll be one of the best players in our league.
Q: Can you talk about Randy Ayers, why you hired him in Philly and how you think heíll do this year?
Brown: I hired him as strength and conditioning coach simply because we didnít have a place for him as an assistant, but heís always been an assistant coach. I got to know him prior to that because of my relationship with Gary Williams. He was Garyís assistant and we became friends. He was a phenomenal help. I treated him like another head coach. He had unbelievable responsibility with Philadelphia, as all the assistants did. Heís a loyal guy, heís a bright guy and I think heíll do a great job. I know the players will love him. They had great respect for him when he worked with me, and they all knew he understood how to coach. I thought it was great hire. The players are really comfortable with him and what heís trying to do. Thereís no doubt in my mind heíll do a great job.
Q: What are your expectations for Tayshaun Prince this season?
Brown: I think he has the chance to start at the small forward position. Last year before the playoffs he really played limited minutes. But he had a great summer. He was probably as good as any player we had in the Orlando Summer League and we had some great young kids down there. Heís had a great training camp. He just knows how to play. Itís that thing when you go four years to college and play for a great coach in a great program, your transition to the pro game is much easier. He accepts coaching, he has a great feel for the game and heís going to have to play, because heís going to replace Michael Curry as the starting small forward and the expectations here are pretty high. But Iím comfortable he can handle it. He can shoot the ball with range, he can put it on the floor and heís a better than average defender, and he is just a kid that gets better every day.