Video: Stephon Marbury rips Larry Brown, Gregg Popovich for 2004 Olympic fiasco
It has been 14 years since the infamous Team USA disappointment at the 2004 Athens Olympics in which they brought home bronze despite boasting some of the world’s biggest stars. To this day, Stephon Marbury holds head coach Larry Brown responsible for their fate, and Brown’s assistant at the time, Gregg Popovich, wasn’t exempt from Marbury’s ire.
Marbury explained just what irked him about Brown in a candid conversation with his fans.
“First of all, y’all talk about Larry Brown, you just wait. He’s gonna have his own day one day, it’s gonna be a straight arrow. A straight arrow,” said Marbury. “Worst 38 days of my life playing for that man.”
In the video, Marbury discussed his experience playing for Team USA, where he teamed up with stars like Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Shawn Marion, and others on a squad unable to bring home the much-expected gold medal.
Marbury won’t let go of his resentment for Brown and his coaching decisions during the Olympics.
“People like Larry Brown, he try to make you feel like you’re not free,” said Marbury. “That’s what people like him do. He thought he was gonna get all the little black kids and tell all the little black kids what to do forever and then he met me [chuckles]. And then he met me.”
The former NBA floor general then darted into the infamous story about how he almost got sent home from the Olympics, including Popovich in the deal, in a story he described as “devastating.”
“Just tried to set me up and send me home and have me looking crazy,” he said. “You know what Popovich told me? ‘Why don’t you tell the media that you hurt your knee and we’ll tell the media that you hurt yourself and just go. You don’t wanna be here, Larry doesn’t want you here, you know? It’s just not a good fit.’
“You know what I told Popovich? I said, ‘Pop, why don’t you go tell Larry Brown to come down here and tell me himself and you stop doing his dirty work?’ He told me, ‘You know what Stephon? I’m gonna do just that.'”
Marbury proceeded to explain the confrontation that ensued, as the point guard was infuriated with the plot that could potentially ruin his career, telling Brown, “You come here and you tell me like a man, because you ain’t no man to me.”
The mercurial floor general would go on to point the finger (literally) at Brown and blame him for their loss to Argentina, which resulted in Team USA being stuck with the bronze.
“So I go up to Larry Brown’s room and I tell him ‘You ain’t gonna have one more problem with me, I’m gonna be a church mouse on your Olympic team,'” said Marbury. “Instead of him coaching a dream team, he thought he was coaching his team — that’s why we lost. Worst 38 days of my life in basketball.”
Brown and Marbury would cross paths again when the coach joined the New York Knicks, a short-lived tenure that would see him coach only during the 2005-06 season. He was fired after a disastrous 23-59 campaign.
Starbury wouldn’t play for the Knicks much longer, playing only 19 games during the 2007-08 season and retiring from the NBA in 2009 to begin his new career in China, where he won multiple titles before retiring earlier this year.
Brown has been a fairly fickle personality in the NBA, with some players loving his old-school mentality, and others like Marbury abhorring his coaching style and rapport. Pop is obviously a legend, but things didn’t go so well with Marbury back in the day.