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Published: Wednesday, 7/20/2005

Malice at the Palace predictable

You can't blame Larry Brown this time.

The Detroit Pistons' brass had no false illusions about Brown, the rolling stone of basketball coaches.

Wherever Brown laid his clipboard was his home.

Owner Bill Davidson and president of basketball operations Joe Dumars got what they wanted - an NBA championship. But also got what they deserved - Brown's abrupt departure in an apparent power struggle over Brown once again changing jobs the way a runway supermodel changes designer outfits.

In the end, Brown matched the Pistons' mistake with a stupid decision of his own and spoiled a perfect opportunity to keep a championship-caliber squad intact.

Brown is Peter Pan in a $2,000 suit because he's never grown up.

He's a basketball genius who's right at home with a whistle around his neck, but he's also insecure and not always truthful with his employers about his job prospects.

He's a teacher of basketball who is more loyal to the game than to any team. His loyalty to himself far outweighed his loyalty to the Pistons.

The Pistons, on the other hand, have no one but themselves to blame.

Did Davidson and Dumars really believe Brown would always coach the Pistons?

Of course not.

Why make Brown out to be the bad guy? If the Pistons didn't believe Brown would be healthy enough to coach next season, why not thank him for a job well done instead of engaging in a silly war of words?

Brown guided the Pistons to back-to-back NBA Finals and one title, a staggering accomplishment.

The Pistons hired Brown because he's won at every stop. He has the coaching instincts to help jaded pro athletes shrink their bloated egos, blend their talents and win on the biggest stage.

So how do the Pistons go about replacing Brown?

Dumars, who hit the daily double with Brown and Rick Carlisle, is targeting former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, a poor substitute for Brown.

The Pistons need a great coach, or at least one their star players will respect.

Saunders is convenient, not great.

If Dumars thinks that Saunders can pick up where Brown left off, he has another think coming.

Brown's risk was well worth the reward.

The knock on Pistons center Ben Wallace was that he couldn't shoot. Ben was supposed to be a defensive specialist who couldn't spell jumper if you spotted him j-u-m-p-e.

Brown unlocked a part of Wallace's game that no one knew existed. Ben proved he's a two-way NBA player who can score points when needed.

That was Brown's doing, as was his ability to connect with enigmatic power forward Rasheed Wallace, a fellow University of North Carolina alum who told everyone within earshot that Brown is the best coach in the NBA.

The alleged reason for Brown's dismissal all depends on whose story you believe.

They say there are two sides to every story, but this unhappy ending has three sides: Brown's side, the Pistons' side, and the truth.



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