New York Larry Brown feels so humiliated by the way the Knicks treated him during the last two months that he is considering retirement, according to a person close to the Hall of Fame coach. But he still wants the $40 million the Knicks owe him.
"I don't think there is any way he coaches next season," the source said. "This could be it. He said the last eight weeks were the most humiliating of his life."
Brown was fired as Knicks head coach Thursday following a contentious one-hour meeting with Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan and team president Isiah Thomas. But the Brown saga is far from over. Dolan is fighting to keep the $40 million owed to Brown, citing just cause for the firing.
The Knicks, according to a high-ranking team official, contend that Brown violated the terms of his contract by, among other things, failing to return phone calls to Thomas, refusing to hold exit interviews with players, departing the predraft camp in Orlando one day early without authorization and talking to the media without a PR staffer present. In the past month, Brown conducted roadside interviews one block from the Knicks' training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. It was during his first such session that Brown referred to himself as a "dead man walking."
Those so-called violations probably won't get the 65-year-old Brown thrown in prison, nor are they expected to prevent him from collecting most - if not all - of his money. The tactic only demonstrates how angry Dolan is with Brown and how bitter he is at having to pay Brown a total of $50 million for 11 months of work.
Brown has a clause in his contract that designates NBA commissioner David Stern to serve as an arbitrator in the event of a financial dispute. The commissioner's office has not said when Stern will make a ruling.
"We will work aggressively to protect Larry's interests," said Joe Glass, Brown's longtime agent. "That's what we intend to do."
Brown was home in Greenwich, Conn., on Friday and not available for comment. He was expected to drive to his summer home in East Hampton, Long Island, late Friday night with his family, which just returned from a trip to London. Neither Dolan nor Thomas has commented since Brown was fired; the announcement came in a statement. Dolan's only public sighting was a concert three weeks ago in Manhattan, when he failed to acknowledge a small group of reporters as he walked right past them.
Nuggets head coach George Karl, a longtime friend of Brown's, said in a television interview that the NBA Coaches Assn. would support Brown. Karl also told ESPN that the Knicks put Brown "through a year of hell" and that the Knicks' handling of Brown's protracted firing gives the league "a black eye."
The Knicks finished 23-59 - matching the franchise record for losses in a season despite owning the league's highest payroll. From all indications, Dolan had made the decision in early April to fire Brown. However, the Knicks left Brown twisting in the wind while requiring him to run the team's draft workouts and attend the predraft camp in Orlando.
During the last five weeks, Brown and Thomas no longer were on speaking terms. In Orlando, the Knicks held at least two private workouts with players but did not invite Brown to attend.