July 25, 2003 -- Larry Brown wants to set the record straight. In East Hampton for the summer, Brown heard a lot of anti-Keith Van Horn calls yesterday on the radio - irate Knicks fans saying the former Sixers coach got so fed up with the 6-10 forward he wanted him out in February.
Although Van Horn put up nice numbers during the regular season in his lone year in Philadelphia, Brown blames himself for not getting more out of him. In fact, Brown now regrets running the offense solely through Allen Iverson.
"[Van Horn] shot almost 49 percent for us and rebounded and he didn't get the ball a lot," Brown told The Post. "He didn't get things run for him. Everything was run for Allen. I didn't help him enough getting involved. I don't think I helped him as much as I could've in the future when I got to know him a bit.
"My feeling is I would've felt more comfortable coaching him this year. I learned a lot of things about him. I told him if I had him a little bit longer, things would've been much better."
Brown, who left Philly for Detroit, had the chance to deal Van Horn for Latrell Sprewell straight up at February's trading deadline, but decided not to make it because he felt his club was too injury-riddled to judge them. "The reason we backed off, it wasn't fair to them because they never were healthy," Brown said.
In a conference call from Salt Lake City, where Van Horn spends his summer, the newest Knick said he felt most comfortable in his first two years playing for former Nets coach John Calipari, who traded for him after Van Horn was picked second in the draft.
"I felt extremely comfortable the first two years," Van Horn said. "Coach Calipari used me like Coach [Rick] Majerus did in college [at Utah]. They have some plans here how to use me effectively. I think the coaches here have a good feel."
Van Horn made no mention of Brown or Byron Scott. "I've been listening to the FAN give opinions on this kid and about how I made comments," Brown said. "All I've said was I thought he was better than he thought. I was pretty hard on him. I was looking forward to changing my ways toward him. I respect how Don Chaney handles players."
The knocks on Van Horn are he's a poor defender, is soft and won't be able to handle the Garden boobirds. Brown's biggest problem with Van Horn was that he didn't set high enough expectations for himself.
"The question how he responds to fans and scrutiny there, I can't answer that," said Brown, the Long Beach product. "But it's terrible in Philly too and he handled it fine. My hope [is] the kid gets off alright. It's a concern of mine for everyone who plays in New York."
Van Horn has the burden of replacing Sprewell, among the Knicks' most popular players ever. "I don't look at it as I'm replacing Latrell, just like Latrell didn't look at it like he was replacing John Starks," Van Horn said. "I'm my own player."
Van Horn said he's glad the deal finally got done. "I wasn't surprised," Van Horn said. "After hearing about it four, five months, I was very excited. It was a nice relief to finally be here."
Van Horn mostly played small forward in Philly, though most consider him a natural power forward. He will start at small forward with the Knicks. "A lot of teams are looking for guys who can be versatile," Van Horn said. "I'm different from the players they have. I can play both positions."