(Tony Brown with the media – @BrooklynNets)
The Nets named Tony Brown as their interim head coach for the rest of the season after Lionel Hollins was dismissed, along with General Manager Billy King.
Brown said of getting the call on Sunday morning that he would be taking over the Nets, “After I woke up, which was about 9:30, talked to my wife, was getting ready to start the day. I missed two or three calls from Billy King and I called him back and he told me that he made the decision on Lionel and himself and he was going to give me the opportunity.
“It was a tough moment for me, took me some time to get an understanding that I would be the guy and a good friend of mine was let go. Yes, Sunday morning was tough, and Billy King was the guy that called,” said Brown.
Brown joined Hollins’ staff before the start of the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach.
Brown spent the prior three seasons as an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks under Rick Carlisle. He also served as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers under Mike Dunleavy in 2009-10, the Miwaukee Bucks in 2007-08 for Larry Krystkowiak, the Boston Celtics from 2004-07 for Doc Rivers, the Toronto Raptors in 2003-04 for Kevin O’Neill, the Detroit Pistons from 2001-03 for Carlisle, and the Portland Trail Blazers from 1997 to 2001 for Dunleavy.
Brown played the University of Arkansas under legendary coach Eddie Sutton, and was drafted by the New Jersey Nets in 1982. he spent seven seasons as an NBA player, from 1984-90 and 1991-92. He played for the Nets, Pacers, Bulls, Rockets, Bucks, Lakers, Jazz, Clippers and SuperSonics, and averaged 6.0 points and 2.1 rebounds.
On what he has learned from the coaches he has worked for, “That’s a tough one. I have respect for Rick Carlisle, had some great runs with him, one of the better managers of the game that we have seen so far in the league. My first opportunity as an assistant with Mike Dunleavy, I think he’s a very smart guy, understands the game, played it, had success as a coach. He will always be the guy that gave me my first start. I think his record speaks for itself, he’s had success coaching in the league.
“Doc Rivers and I have been friends for a long time. he grew up in Chicago just like myself, born and raised. I’m a year older than him, so during that time, obviously, competed against each other, so working for him was also great. He has a great passion for the game.
“I’ve worked for Kevin O’Neill, whose a friend of mine. We worked for Rick Carlisle in Detroit, very tough-minded defensive coach. Larry Krystkowiak, who I worked with in Milwaukee, was a teammate of mine with Jay Humphries (an assistant currently with the Nets), a lot of respect for him, tough situation in Milwaukee.
“I think everybody that I worked for had great passion for the game and that’s where you have to start. If you’re in it for any other reason, then you probably shouldn’t be there. I think most of the people I’ve worked for have great passion for the game, loved the game, played it, so I wouldn’t say one guy stands out, and I think a lot of them impacted me throughout my coaching career,” said Brown.
On if he spoke with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov since being named interim head coach, Brown said, “I talked to Mikhail Prokhorov this morning, one of the first times I’ve had to meet him and talk to him. He’s a very engaging man, understands the business of basketball and had success running a team in Europe and now running this team. I think he has a good understanding about professional sports, unfortunately this is a rough period for the organization, no question about it, but I think he’s the right man to help turn it around. I found it very engaging talking about basketball and talking about the team itself. He has passion to turn it around and really wants it to be a winning franchise. It’s going to take time, but I think he has the right mindset to help turn this thing around.”
On what Prokhorov stressed to him most, Brown said, “I would just say this, I think that he wants to see these other assets on this roster play, no particular preference. He wants to see what he has, and I think this is a good time to see what the Sergeys (Karasev) can do, eventually what the Chris McCulloughs can do, hopefully, we can get Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) back before it’s too late into the season, just find out what kind of talent base we have. Obviously, we want to play at a pace that’s exciting and that the fans can get behind. I think he understands that that’s the style of play that most teams have been trying to get to, and we’ll find out if some of the guys we have can fit into that mold. I think that’s the essence of our conversation, and I think he understands that he has to build up the roster, and it’s going to take time. Just find out what he have, and just find out if these guys can be a Net in the future.”
Brown said of the biggest adjustment he has to make to become a head coach, “One inch is a long way away, a lot of decisions have to be made. Even tonight, I am looking forward to the game, get away from all interviews, all the little things you have to do organizational-wise as far as making decisions. I want to get to the basketball court. A lot of decisions have to be made as a head coach in a split-second, and it will take some time, hopefully not too long, but once the ball goes up in the air, I’m comfortable in that environment. We always say the seat is hot – there’s a reason why it’s hot.”