Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry had a decision to make. Should he retain head coach Larry Drew, whose contract was set to expire, or go in a new direction? Ferry chose the latter. Fortunately for Drew, he wouldn’t be out of work long. The Milwaukee Bucks hired him as their new head coach in May 2013.
Larry Drew was born in Kansas City, Kan., on April 2, 1958. After playing 4 years at the University of Missouri, he was chosen by the Detroit Pistons with the 17th overall pick in the 1980 Draft. Drew spent one season in Detroit and then played 5 years with the Kings in both Kansas City, Mo., and Sacramento, Calif. His best season was in 1982-83, when he averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 assists and 1.7 steals. Drew then moved on to Los Angeles, where he played for both the Clippers and the Lakers, and also spent a year overseas, playing for Scavolini of the Italian League in 1988-89. In his 11-year career, Drew averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists.
Drew began his coaching career in the 1992-93 season with the Lakers. He went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Pistons, Washington Wizards and New Jersey Nets before being hired as the top assistant to Atlanta’s then-head coach Mike Woodson in August 2004. In June 2010, he was chosen to replace Woodson. It was his first head coaching job.
The Hawks defeated the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2011 playoffs and came within two games of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Chicago Bulls. Drew’s six wins were the most by a rookie Atlanta coach in his first playoff appearance. Some predicted the Hawks to miss the playoffs entirely in 2011-12, but despite significant injuries to key players at various times, Drew guided the team to a 40-26 record in the shortened season (fourth best in the Eastern Conference) and a fifth consecutive postseason appearance.
Ferry was hired as Atlanta’s general manager in summer 2012. The Hawks finished 44-38 in 2012-13 and were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. Rather than sign Drew to a new contract, Ferry chose to replace him with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer. The Bucks announced Drew’s hiring on Friday, May 31.