Memphis announced Friday that legendary coach Larry Brown is stepping away from his role as special adviser to Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway due to "ongoing health concerns." Brown first took a leave of absence from his role before the season due to what was described at the time as a "minor medical issue."
The 82-year-old Hall of Famer spent the 2021-22 season as an assistant for the Tigers before transitioning to the advisory capacity. The school noted in its Friday announcement that Brown's health issues are "not considered serious."
"We wish Coach Brown a speedy recovery," Hardaway said. "Having Coach Brown as part of our program over the last year-and-a-half was very impactful on our student-athletes and me as a coach, and we hope all the best for him and good health moving forward."
As a veteran NBA and college coach, Brown offered Hardaway an experienced voice and perspective. Prior to landing the Memphis head job for the 2018-19 season, Hardaway had not worked in college basketball coaching after his storied NBA playing career. Instead, he'd been a successful middle and high school coach in Memphis.
Brown, by contrast, was well-versed in the highest levels of the game, and the Tigers qualified for their first NCAA Tournament since 2014 last season with Brown on the bench. His return to college basketball at Memphis afforded him the chance to re-write the ending to a legendary but often controversial coaching career. The former star point guard for North Carolina won the 1988 national title as the coach Kansas before spending more than two decades coaching several different NBA franchises. He coached the Detroit Pistons to a 2004 NBA championship
He returned to the college game in 2012 as SMU's coach and posted a 94-39 record in four seasons before resigning in 2016. Brown and Hardaway have a relationship dating back to Hardaway's storied playing career as Brown was coach of the New York Knicks during a portion of Hardaway's stop there late in his career.