Legendary coach Larry Brown is back in college basketball.
And he’ll be right alongside one of his former players.
On Tuesday, Memphis men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway pulled his name from the Orlando Magic head coaching candidacy, and Brown is set to join his staff, according to ESPN.
Brown will return to the college ranks as an assistant coach after a five-year reprieve. He last coached at SMU for four seasons from 2012-16. He held an 85-39 record with the Mustangs and was able to lead them to a regular season and conference tournament championship in 2015.
The 80-year-old Hall of Famer has also been at the helm of major programs such as UCLA and Kansas and coached for 31 seasons in the NBA. He is the only coach in history to win both a men’s basketball national championship and an NBA title after he won the NCAA Tournament with Kansas in 1988, and the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons.
Joining the Tigers staff will reunite Brown with his former player Hardaway after 15 years. They became acquainted in the 2005-06 season when Brown coached Hardaway as members of the Knicks.
Hardaway, meanwhile, wasn’t quite ready to make the leap to the NBA just yet.
“One day, in the future, I would love to coach in the NBA, and wouldn’t it be great if it were the Orlando Magic?” Hardaway said in an Instagram video. “But today isn’t that day.
Hardaway interviewed for the Magic opening, and was a reportedly “serious candidate, for his former team. He played for Orlando for the first six years of his career, where he was a four-time All-Star and helped lead the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals, where they were swept by the Houston Rockets.
Hardaway returned to his alma mater in 2018. He holds a 63-32 record in three seasons with the Tigers, but he has failed to make the NCAA Tournament in each of those seasons; last year’s postseason was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today I’m here with my players, with the fans, with the city, working as hard as I can to try and bring us a national championship, and that’s what I set out to do, and that’s what I want to do,” Hardaway said. “So, for all the fans that have rocked out with us, cheered with us, that are rocking with us, through wins and losses, cheering us on, fighting for us and staying loyal, thank you so much.
“And I’m doing the same thing. I’m going to be here. I don’t want you guys to be afraid that I’m going anywhere.”