A guard at the University of North Carolina in the early 1960s, Brown was a member of the United States basketball team at the 1964 Olympic Games. During the preliminary tournament, the U.S. defeated Australia (78-45), Finland (77-51), Peru (60-45), Uruguay (83-28), Yugoslavia (69-61), Brazil (86-53), and South Korea (116-50). Brown then led U.S. scorers with 16 points in their 64-42 victory over Puerto Rico in the semifinals.
In the the gold medal game, the U.S. played the Soviet Union, the other unbeaten team, whom many considered a co-favorite prior to the tournament. The U.S., who had never lost an Olympic basketball game (a streak of 45 straight wins, going back to the 1936 Games), overcame an early deficit and won the game, 73-59; Brown scored six points in the game. During the Olympic tournament, Brown scored a total of 37 points (4.1 average) on 14-34 field goals (.452), and 9-10 free throws; he also committed 37 personal fouls and fouled out of the Yugoslavian game.
Brown was an assistant coach of the gold medal winning men's basketball team at the 2000 Olympics, becoming the first American to both play and coach basketball in the Olympics. Brown had been named an assistant coach of the U.S. men's basketball team for the 1980 Olympics, but did not participate as the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games.
Brown was named head coach of the U.S. basketball team at the 2004 Athens Games. This follows the debacle at the 2002 World Championships, where the U.S. finished in sixth place -- the first time in history that the USA, playing with NBA players, had lost an international game (they lost three in that tournament!). Brown said in a statement, "I look at this as an unbelievable honor, one that I don't take lightly. I understand how many great coaches there are out there who are deserving of this opportunity, and I feel so honored to be chosen. I will do my very best to represent USA Basketball and the NBA. This is what makes coaching worthwhile."
The U.S.A played Puerto Rico in its first game as part of Preliminary Group B. All of the weaknesses inherent to the team, lack of cohesion, lack of outside shooting and inexperience in handling international zonal defense were apparent in their 92-73 loss. The team was 3-24 from outside the arch and was overwhelmed by Carlos Arroyo's magnificent 24 point performance. It was team U.S.A's first Olympic defeat since NBA players were introduced and their third overall. Brown realized his team had trouble with orderly European style defensive setups, and tried to transform the second game into favorable chaos. On August 18, they played Greece in a messy, turnover rich encounter (19 for the U.S and 22 for Greece). Lebron James, Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson made the most of the open court opportunities as the U.S won 77-71. In the third group game against Australia, the U.S came back from a 51-47 half time deficit to win 89-79. The Aussies were shooting an ungodly 61% from the field halfway through the third quarter before their numbers started to even out. Brown had obviously worked out several elaborate moves to isolate Allen Iverson mid-range shots. The U.S made the most of the more collaborative style and Shawn Marion (16 points) was particularly effective in breaking up Australia's zonal defense. The United States was beaten by Lithuania 94-90 in their fourth game Preliminary Group B. They were overawed by Maccabi Tel-Aviv point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius whose 28 points (including 4 three pointers in the fourth quarter) were instrumental in the victory. On August 23, the U.S.A finally won an easy victory as they beat Angola 89-53, taking advantage of a 52-17 rebounding advantage. The U.S finally put together a creditable performance against a worthy opponent, as they beat Spain the quarterfinals 102-94. The team is more accustomed to zonal defense at this point, and they used Stephon Marbury's excellent shooting form to crack the continental setup open. At the end of the game Brown was involved in an altercation with Spanish coach Mario Pesquera, over a late American time out. Brown's charges lost the semifinal to Argentina 89-81, as the U.S lost the gold medal for the first time since 1988. Argentina was stunningly good and truly outplayed the pedestrian "dream team". The U.S won the bronze by beating Lithuania 104-96 in the third place decider.
Click here for Brown's entry in the basketball section.
Brown played for five seasons in the ABA, and was a three-time ABA All-Star before becoming a very successful coach. In 29 years of coaching, Brown has led nine teams, in both the professional and college ranks, and has suffered only three losing seasons. He has coached six NBA teams in 18 years, the last six of them with the Philadelphia 76ers. Brown took the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals and was named NBA Coach of the Year. Larry's longest stint of coaching lasted five seasons at the University of Kansas from 1983 through his national championship season in 1988. He is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Sept. 14, 1940
Brooklyn, New York
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
New York Times, October 11-October 25, 1964