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Who Is Tony Brown?

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TonyCeltics Assistant Coach Tony Brown doesn't make a lot of headlines. He talks to reporters after halftime, but doesn't say much beyond the coachspeak that all such interviews consist of. He doesn't get a ton of credit (or blame) on blogs, forums, or even mainstream media outlets. However, his name has popped up as a candidate for a few open head coaching positions. For example, his name was mentioned regarding the job in Sacramento (quoting the SacBee):

Assistant coaches Alvin Gentry (Phoenix), Lionel Hollins (Memphis), Bill Cartwright (New Jersey), Tony Brown (Boston), Mike O'Koren and Phil Hubbard (Washington), Jim Cleamons and Brian Shaw (Lakers) and Darrell Walker (New Orleans) bring differing experience levels and personalities that could make them successful coaches here.

I also heard his name on ESPN Radio last night as one of the candidates for the newly vacant Indiana job (he played in Indy). In fact, Rick Carlisle mentioned him as a potential replacement (and may face tampering charges for doing so):

"I think there are some great names," Carlisle said. "(Phoenix assistant coach) Marc Iavaroni is a name. (Toronto coach) Sam Mitchell is a guy that's going to be a free agent. He's a former Pacer. . . . Another name I heard, Tony Brown, a guy in Boston. He's a top assistant up there."

In addition, last season when Doc was getting some early heat from the press (before Pierce got hurt and other injuries let him off the hook), Tony Brown was sited as an option to finish out the year if Doc was fired and Ainge still didn't want to coach himself. If things go poorly next year, I'm sure the same option will be mentioned in the press.

So what else do we know about Tony Brown? I haven't had the opportunity to interview the coaching staff or ask around the league about him, so what you'll get from me is an outsider's view. (Shira, if you are reading, I'd love to see one of your fluffy offseason bios on Tony)

Doing some research into the archives, I found the first game where Doc Rivers was away from the team (I believe it was personal reasons) and Tony Brown had to coach the entire game. Turns out he coached the team to a victory over the Pacers. Here's the box score.

Here are some quotes from Tony Brown from the Herald after the game:

[Tony Allen] scored 11 of his season-high 14 points in the period, and the Celts ran away from the Pacers, 103-88. The C's closed a critical road trip at 1-3 and moved 3 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I just felt some of our guys were a little winded, a little tired," [Tony Brown] said after starting Allen, Gerald Green, Kendrick Perkins, Orien Green and Al Jefferson in the fourth. "It was a hunch. I kind of rolled the dice on it a little bit. I just felt at the time we needed some young legs out there, especially from the perimeter positions.

So he played a hunch, played the young guys, and won. That shows that he has some creativity and the courage to try something different. Other than that, I don't know what else you can make of a single game.

If I remember correctly, in preseason it was mentioned that Tony Brown is responsible for coaching the team defense. Nobody would blame him if he didn't want to take credit for the lack of defense the team plays, but in fairness some of these guys wouldn't play good defense in any system. In addition, as the Lead Assistant, I'm sure he's pulled in several other directions and can't focus all his efforts on just one thing.

Clifford Ray is supposed to be the big man coach, Kevin Eastman seems to be more of a young player's teacher. Who knows what Wohl and Hill do? (I'm sure they are wonderful people, I just don't know what they do) If we go out and add another assistant coach (or have to replace one for whatever reason), I'm hoping that we can bring in a defensive guru, not unlike Dick Harter was for Jim O'Brien.

Back to Tony Brown: How about his resume? Here is a sample from his page on

Overall Brown has spent eight seasons as an NBA assistant coach, most recently as Kevin O'Neill's lead assistant in Toronto, and has advanced to the playoffs in six of those seasons. Prior to joining the Raptors, Brown spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons from 2001-03. During his time with the Pistons, the club recorded a 100-64 (.610) regular season record, registered back-to-back 50-win seasons, captured two Central Division titles and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003.

Brown also worked for four seasons on Mike Dunleavy's staff in Portland from 1997-2001. The Blazers had a 190-106 (.642) regular-season mark during that span, highlighted by a Pacific Division crown in 1999 and a 59-23 mark in 1999-2000. He began his post-playing career as an advance scout and college talent evaluator for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1994-97.

That is actually a very impressive run of teams he was a part of. If you are wondering, the coach he was under in Detroit was Rick Carlisle.

So that's a small sampling of information on Tony, but it still doesn't paint a complete picture.

If he's such a great coach, why don't we hear more about him around Boston? In what ways has he helped the Celtics? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Is he really a top candidate for other positions, or is he one of the fringe or up-and-coming candidates?  In short, just what do we have here?  These are the kind of things I'd like to hear from people in the know.

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