Friday , Dec , 01 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Basketball’s best analyst: Hubie Brown

I’ve been an avid NBA follower for over 35 years now and I can unequivocally say that I have never seen a finer basketball analyst than Hubie Brown. Simply put, Brown’s expertise and knowledge of the game are beyond compare – and his delivery to viewers makes the NBA game easy to learn, even for a first-time viewer who knows nothing about the pro game.

   Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about pro basketball’s best analyst, and one of the game’s best coaches to never win an NBA title, Hubie Brown.

   Brown, was born, Hubert Jude "Hubie" Brown on September 25, 1933 in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

   Brown is a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, who, incredibly, won the awards, an amazing 26 years apart. Brown played college basketball at Niagara University, where he graduated in 1955 with a degree in education.

   After leaving college, Brown enlisted in the Armed Forces where he joined the Army’s basketball team. After he was honorably discharged in 1958, Brown briefly played for the Rochester Rockies of the Eastern Professional Basketball League before they folded after just eight games. He averaged 13.8 points per game in his brief stint as a pro and was an excellent defender, an aspect that he would carry on years later when his coaching tenure began.

   Brown spent nine years coaching at the high school level before becoming an assistant coach for one season at the College of William and Mary in 1968. The following season, Brown joined Duke University as an assistant coach where he stayed until 1972, when he joined the Milwaukee Bucks as an assistant coach under Larry Costello.

   After two seasons as an assistant in the NBA, Brown was given his first shot as a head coach at the pro level with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA. Brown led the Colonels to their only ABA Championship in 1975 before the ABA-NBA merger in 1976 when the Colonels franchise folded.

   Brown then rejoined the NBA as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, going an uninspiring 31-51 in his first season with the Hawks. However, by the 1977-78 season, Atlanta had rebounded into a .500 team, finishing 41-41, earning Coach of the Year honors for Brown who also led them to a Central Division title in the 1979-80 season, before accepting the head coaching position with the New York Knicks in 1982, where he succeeded the legendary, Red Holtzman. Brown stayed with the Knicks until he was fired in 1986 after starting the season 4-12. 

   Brown then turned to the broadcasting booth, becoming the lead basketball analyst for CBS in 1988. Brown also worked on the local broadcasts for the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons before joining TNT in the early 1990s where he anchored TNT’s basketball coverage through the 2001-02 season.

  During the 2002-03 season, Brown made national news by accepting general manager, Jerry West’s offer to take over as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies after the team got off to an 0-8 start under Sidney Lowe.

   Many so-called basketball “experts” ripped West and Brown at the time because of Brown’s age (69) and time away from the game as a head coach.

   Brown finished the season with a 28-46 record with the team before the team underwent an astonishing turnaround the following season, finishing with a 50-32 record and making the playoffs for the first time in team history. Brown was again named the NBA’s Coach of the Year.

   By the 2004-05 season, there were again concerns about Brown’s health and age. Brown was given medical clearance to start the season, but was forced to delegate much work to his assistant coaches. Brown then unexpectedly resigned on Thanksgiving Day in 2004. In a statement, he cited “unexpected health-related issues… [that were] absolutely nonexistent at the beginning of the season.”

   In December that year, Brown signed with ABC as their top NBA analyst, working alongside Al Michaels on both, regular-season and playoff games, including the NBA Finals. In 2005, Brown was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor and remains to this day, the best basketball analyst I have ever had the pleasure of watching or listening to. To put it mildly, there will never be another Hubie Brown.