Larry Brown pens tribute to Bill Self ahead of Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Larry Brown will serve as Bill Self’s presenter Friday night when Self is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but he wanted to share his thoughts of his former graduate assistant ahead of time.
Presenters are only ceremonial and don’t give speeches, so Brown wrote about some of experiences with Self in a story on the The Players’ Tribune, released Tuesday.
“Bill is sincere. Bill is honest. I can’t stress how rare that is,” Brown wrote. “The kids can tell right away that he has their back. While I don’t like where the game is going — a lot of times, kids just aren’t prepared to compete at the next level — I never worry about that with Bill’s players.
“His teams are always well-prepared. For kids who want to make it to the next level, Bill helps them make the transition. To say it plainly — he’s one of the best coaches in the game.”
Self and Brown first worked together during Brown’s basketball camp in Lawrence in 1985, introduced by R.C. Buford, now the San Antonio Spurs general manager.
In the ’85-86 season, Self became a graduate assistant to Brown at KU. Brown notes all of the coaching talent surrounding that team in the Players’ Tribune story, which included Self, Buford, Alvin Gentry and Gregg Popovich, along with players-turned-coaches Danny Manning, Mark Turgeon and Milt Newton.
“Loyalty is something that a lot of people forget is a critical part of this business,” Brown wrote. “Bill’s been loyal to me for 30 years, and people who coach with him now — Norm Roberts, Kurtis Townsend, Danny Manning — stay around him a long time. I think that shows that Bill creates a great environment that’s really hard to leave. Coaches want to be around Bill.”
Brown was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002 and shared some of his advice for Self during his special week: enjoy a glass of red wine, recognize all of the people who helped his coaching career and realize the impact he’s had on his assistant coaches.
Self said Tuesday that he was expecting more than 50 of his former players in attendance for his enshrinement ceremony and 15 assistant coaches.
Brown estimated that he spent about 30 days around Self’s program last season and said if his son wanted to coach, “there’s no other place I’d rather have him be than within earshot of Bill Self.”
“He recognizes how much respect the head coach position at Kansas deserves,” Brown wrote. “And yet, he’s inclusive and open, which means everything to the people that work around him. He doesn’t make himself any bigger than he is.”
The Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Springfield, Mass., televised on NBA TV.
Read all of Brown’s tribute to Self on the Player’s Tribune website and stay tuned to KUsports.com for more coverage of Self’s enshrinement into the Hall of Fame throughout the week.