Brown steps down from 76ers post

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

PHILADELPHIA -- Larry Brown resigned as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday after six often-turbulent seasons, saying the decision "has been coming for a long time."

Brown, a Hall of Famer and one of basketball's most well-traveled coaches, could be a candidate for coaching vacancies in Cleveland, Houston and elsewhere. He said the 76ers have released him from a contractual clause that prohibited him from coaching another NBA team if he left Philadelphia prematurely. Brown had two years left in his contract.

Brown's job with the Sixers was his longest tenure with any team in his 31-year coaching career. He led the team to the playoffs five straight years, including the 2001 NBA Finals, and is to coach the U.S. men's national team this summer at an Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.

The 62-year-old Brown had been contemplating stepping down since Philadelphia lost its second-round playoff series to Detroit in six games. The Sixers overcame a mediocre start, won 23 of their final 33 games and finished 48-34.

But after beating New Orleans in six games in the first round, the Sixers couldn't get past the top-seeded Pistons, losing twice in overtime and once on a last-second shot that was goaltended.

"This has been coming for a long time," Brown said at a news conference. "I said to everybody I didn't want to hold this franchise back. I kind of thought in the middle of the season that we needed a change, a fresh look. And that's been on my mind awhile."

LeBron James, expected to go to the Cavaliers with the top pick in the NBA draft on June 26, said he would be happy if Brown ended up in Cleveland.

"I think Larry Brown is a great teacher if we can get him," James said during an interview at halftime of TNT's broadcast of the San Antonio-Dallas playoff game Sunday night. "I consider myself a student of the game, so Larry Brown would be great."

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