With exit interviews underway Thursday marking the end of the season for the Bobcats, we saw some mildly interesting comments from various players about their offseason plans, what they aim to improve upon, etc. Though intriguing to Bobcats fans, none of it was particularly eye-popping.
That is, until Stephen Jackson dropped behind-the-scenes information about Larry Brown's openly defeatist attitude before the season even began. What followed revealed why the team seemed lost and ultimately disinterested with Larry Brown at the helm before he was fired.
Before the season started, things didn't seem so bleak. There were definitely big questions and uncertainty abound concerning the Bobcats' season, with a new starting point guard in whom Brown had never shown exceptional confidence, a continued lack of depth at center, and some questionable offseason decisions. But while the Eastern Conference got stronger in the offseason at the top, it still seemed like the last couple of seeds were up for grabs. But it was fairly obvious that Larry Brown was not confident in this team without Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler, whose departures rattled him, as shown in preseason interviews.
However, Larry Brown seemed to show particular confidence in Stephen Jackson, even going as far as thinking Jackson was capable of averaging a triple-double (extremely laughable now, I may add). Jackson seemed to be invigorated by the comment saying, "For a coach to expect that from me, to really believe it's doable, that's a big compliment from a Hall of Fame coach."
But based on today's statements from Jackson, there was far less confidence in the team flowing in the locker room than was thought ‒ even before the first game.
"He basically told me that we weren't going to be good, that we weren't going to be a playoff team," Jackson said about Brown's comments to him before the season.
Jackson continued, "That you already know before you even play that he has no confidence in you, it's kind of hard to go to war with a guy like that."
And from there, Larry Brown lost the team's faith in him as head coach. It showed on the court as well. The Bobcats looked listless and uncharacteristically lazy on defense, stumbling to a 1-6 start. The team would improve but remain mediocre. And then it all hit the fan in December, when the Bobcats began dropping games by 20 on a regular basis, culminating in the firing of Brown by Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.
After hiring former Charlotte Hornets coach Paul Silas, the team made marked improvement. It was evident the players underwent a change in attitude with a new head coach. Instead of glum, dejected faces, we saw a more upbeat team playing in a faster offense. D.J. Augustin was seemingly freed, a notion supported by Jackson: "D.J. didn't say a word last year because he was afraid to talk to Coach." The change in the team's demeanor was basically immediate. Players worked harder, were more open, had more fun, and most importantly, won more. But it was too little, too late, taking into consideration the 9-19 record under Larry Brown.
Although like many Bobcats fans, I picked up on some sort of dissonance between Larry Brown and the team, I didn't expect it to fully come out into the clear like this. And I can't say I blame the players much at all.
Larry Brown was and is a fantastic coach, especially on defense and coaching up players to their potential -- at least when he's motivated. For him to give up on the team before the season even began is unacceptable. After all, that's his dang job - to work on the team to the best of his ability to hopefully mold them into a playoff team. As a player, you can give it your all and play to his whims, but if he doesn't care and has resigned to defeat before the battles are even fought, how can you respect him? And that's just what happened. The players, knowing Brown's lack of confidence in his own players, lost respect for him as their coach and as a leader as well. The result was reflected on the court until Michael Jordan took the problem into his own hands and canned Brown.
Now, with Silas at the helm, things are looking brighter than under Brown. As D.J. Augustin put it, "We have a good coach now."
Source: WRAL Sports