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Legendary Basketball Coach Returns Near His Long Beach Roots

Larry Brown reflects on his Long Island upbringing following his SMU team’s win at Hofstra on Saturday.

Basketball legend Larry Brown, center, a graduate of Long Beach High School’s Class of 1958, returned near his roots on Saturday when he coached Southern Methodist University to a 73-47 win against Hofstra. (Credit: Andrew Coen)
Basketball legend Larry Brown, center, a graduate of Long Beach High School’s Class of 1958, returned near his roots on Saturday when he coached Southern Methodist University to a 73-47 win against Hofstra. (Credit: Andrew Coen)
Story and Photos by Andrew Coen.

Basketball coaching legend Larry Brown made a stop near his native Long Beach this past weekend and reflected on growing up on Nassau County's South Shore.

The 72-year old Brown, a Nasmith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer whose coaching career spans four decades, is now the head coach at Southern Methodist University, who were on Long Island to face Hofstra on Saturday. After SMU posted a dominant 73-47 win at Hofstra's Mack Sports Complex, Brown expressed how much his Long Beach roots meant to him.

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"My mom moved here and allowed me to grow up in a great environment,” said Brown, a 1958 Long Beach High School graduate who played college basketball at the University of North Carolina. “I heard Long Beach got hit pretty hard with Sandy and it's impacted a lot of people's lives and that is kind of tough but it is always great coming back here and seeing old friends.”

Brown is the only head coach to have won championships at both the NBA and college levels, accomplishing these feats with the University of Kansas in 1988 and the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He is the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history, garnering 1,098 career victories while on the sidelines of nine different teams that included the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. After Saturday's win at Hofstra, Brown gave much of the credit for his successful career to the coaching he received at Long Beach High School.

"I had a great high school coach that gave me this opportunity and there's a lot of great memories for me," said Brown, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. “I loved growing up here.”

Brown, who still lives on Long Island in the summer, said he has enjoyed his new coaching stint at SMU, which is located in Dallas. The Mustangs compete in Conference USA and are scheduled to move to the Big East next season.

"It is a great school and I love being involved in basketball in any capacity and at my age for somebody to take a chance with me is pretty incredible," he said. "Aside from being away from my family and friends, it has been an unbelievable experience for me."

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