That’s the takeaway from Grantland’s piece today wondering why the Hall of Fame coach campaigned vigorously to land a job leading such an undistinguished college basketball program as SMU’s. The first graf:
At the age of 72, with the Naismith Hall of Fame on his rÃ©sumÃ© and his standing as the only basketball coach ever to have won both an NCAA championship and an NBA championship, you have to wonder why Larry Brown is riding the team bus nearly four hours down I-35 through Waco, Georgetown (notÂ thatÂ Georgetown), Round Rock, and Austin to San Marcos and Texas State University; why at six one morning, he drives his Chevy Malibu to a Houston high school to scout a kid while Coach K flies in on his private jet; why last July alone he hauled himself around the country to Philly, Indiana, Las Vegas, Orlando, two outposts in the Texas hinterlands, and Hampton, Virginia, where John Calipari of Kentucky and Bill Self of Kansas, two of Brown’s closest friends, sat seigneurially in the stands focusing on three or four prime recruits; why he spends his afternoons on the practice floor teaching basketball to hardworking young men who are not and will never be among the basketball elite and who, Brown jokes, have to Google him to find out who he is; why he tolerates games in half-empty arenas where the cheerleaders are louder than the crowd and where he can’t help but pop up off the bench during nearly every possession, gesticulating at his players like a ground crewman directing a plane to the gate, and why he risks suffering the losses even though his veins bulge, his face reddens, and he has been known to break out in a rash during a game; above all, why he has left his family back in Philadelphia – his beautiful young wife and his teenage son and daughter, whom he adores – to live in a residential hotel in Dallas, where he eats takeout food and spends most nights alone.
I know the down-and-dirty Hotel Santa Fe has been replaced by the luxe Palomar, but that’s where I’m picturing him. Sitting on his bed with a box from Pei Wei.