Pointing fingers at Larry Brown for the Bobcats' mess

CHARLOTTE NC - DECEMBER 11: Head coach Larry Brown of the Charlotte Bobcats reacts against the Boston Celtics during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 11 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this Photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

We're in the doldrums. That's fine. It happens. Every year, there are some teams that just don't contend for the playoffs at any point in the season. I'm guessing there's a split in the RoF audience between people who are looking ahead past this season and those clinging to hope that the Bobcats will go on a run and launch themselves back into the post-season conversation.

Let's be clear about something before we continue: Larry Brown is still probably a good Xes and Os coach, in the narrowest sense of the term. I don't doubt that he can still teach effectively, and that he can install an offense and defense as efficiently as anyone in the game. I'm also in the camp that holds that at this level player talent matters far more than coaching talent, so pulling a coach is usually more about "doing something", air-quotes fully intended.

But in this instance, it's finally come to the point where we should strongly consider moving on from the Larry Brown era. Again, it's not because he can't coach anymore; I'm sure he still has the knack for pushing the right buttons, given talented personnel. Where Brown fails is in choosing which players deserve floor time, and -- since he's been given this influence -- roster construction. I've said it before, but not quite as succinctly as Jared did the other day:

Larry Brown’s ultimate joy in basketball is to play with and to play as an unlikely winner...

Taking a team that featured Eric Snow, George Lynch, and Aaron McKie to the NBA Finals likely meant far more than winning a title with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O`Neal.  Even Iverson, though a league MVP, epitomized the underdog mentality with his slight stature.

I'd even extend that to the 2004 Pistons, the most unlikely NBA champion of its modern era (post-1979), and yet the team that Brown seems to want to re-create at every step since. Remember them? Brown's Detroit team that featured four All Stars and a near-All Star that upset an imploding Los Angeles Lakers team in the Finals?

Remember, too: they smoked the Bucks in the first round. Then they needed seven games to get past a fatigued Nets team that had been through Finals runs the past two seasons, switched coaches mid-season, and had a horrific bench led by an end-of-career Rodney Rogers and an end-of-career Lucious Harris, and also had to work with Jason Kidd who was still POed that he hadn't been traded to the Spurs the previous off-season and limping around on one knee. Then the Pistons won one of the league's ugliest conference championship series, barely getting by a talented Pacers team by grinding out wins with point totals of 72, 85, 83, and 69.

All that's to point out that the Pistons were a ridiculously loaded team besides not having a singular Hall of Famer, yet they still had a tough time navigating through a weak Eastern Conference playoffs. Building another franchise in their image is folly -- unless you've already got your three All Stars and one near All Star and can complete the picture by overpaying in first round picks that you don't think you'll need for the next two seasons in order to get that fourth All Star.

Coaches matter, and they don't matter. You can't win NBA games by just rolling the ball out there and letting 'em play. But you also can't win unless you have talented players, and this team doesn't have any perennial All Stars, and it doesn't come close to making up the starting lineup's talent gulf on the bench. If the coach won't use the talent on hand, and he'll mainly take on players that match up with his antiquated-college-ball-ish value system, then the coach is the problem.

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