Before he decides whether to add the title of head boys basketball coach at East Hampton High School to his Hall of Fame resume, Larry Brown will spend the weekend in Dallas visiting his two children who attend Southern Methodist University, where Brown coached for the previous four seasons before resigning in July.
“Right now, I’m going to visit my kids for parents weekend at SMU and just kind of think about it,” Brown said, adding that he is likely to decide next week whether to accept a pending offer he has to coach in the community where he has had an offseason home for 14 years. His son, L.J., is a senior at SMU and his daughter, Madison, is a sophomore there. “I need some time to sort things out and figure out what I really want to do.”
Brown, 76, the only coach to win NBA and NCAA championships, attended an open-gym session at East Hampton High School on Tuesday night, where he met the current coaching staff and players in grades 9 through 12. “They made a great impression on me. I really enjoyed it,” Brown said.
The feeling was mutual, said East Hampton director of athletics Joseph Vasile-Cozzo.
“He made us feel great, too,” Vasile-Cozzo said. “When Larry Brown walks into the gym, everything changes. The kids stopped playing and came right over to him and were very quiet. They’re thinking, ‘Wow, we’ve got a legend here.’ I think they were a little shocked.”
Vasile-Cozzo said Brown watched a pickup game, then shook hands with the players, even saying a couple of things to a few individuals.
“The kids thought that was pretty neat, that he would acknowledge them and say something about their game,” Vasile-Cozzo said. “It’s clear that he likes kids and that he cares about them. That’s what I look for in a coach. I’m sure he’ll be involved in some way with our program.”
Brown reiterated that he will only take the head coaching job “if I can be all in and not cheat anybody. They already have a great coaching staff in place. I care about this town. They have such a great basketball tradition with Coach [Ed] Petrie and what he did,” Brown said of the iconic East Hampton coach who died in 2015 at the age of 82 after winning 588 of his state-record 754 games for the Bonackers. “I want to do the right thing. If I decide to live out here for the entire year, I’ll be excited about helping out and doing anything that they need me to do.”
Brown has retained his intense passion for basketball, which is why he is considering a small-town high school job after years as a high-profile NBA and college coach.
“I don’t want to retire. I want to stay involved in the game in some capacity,” Brown said. “I’ve been asked to speak at so many places right now. There are a lot of people I care about who are still coaching and they want me to come by and contribute. But I don’t want to live out of a suitcase.”