"La-a-r-ry.

"L-a-a-r-ry Brown-n-n."This is James speaking. J-a-a-a-mes Naismith.

"Listen, Larry, sta-a-y at Kansas. You don't want to go to UCLA-A-A." Who knows, maybe it was the ghost of James Naismith, the father of basketball and the first KU coach and all that good stuff, who talked Brown into remaining as Jayhawk coach.

It's as good an explanation as any.

Brown told UCLA he was coming to work for them, then flew back and shocked the socks off everyone by saying he was staying at Kansas.

One thing I do know. I'm taking the pledge.

I'm never again going to say Larry Brown is leaving until I am standing on the airport runway and feel the propwash in my face. Until see Larry waving at me from the window and watch the plane taking off. Until I don't see Larry parachute out at the last second over Lawrence.

As of today, I'm joining LA. Larry Anonymous.

Every time I get the urge to print a hot tip that Larry Brown is going somewhere, I'm calling this toll-free number, and a voice on the other end will remind me: Remember UCLA Day.

As one of the many heavy thinkers of the press who explained how Brown was signed, sealed and delivered to UCLA, I'd like to thank him for a lesson in humility.

In fact, I am make reservations tonight at the Humble Pie Restaurant.

"How do you like the egg on your face, sir _ poached, fried?"

"Scrambled, please. Like my brains."

We superslueths went after the Brown move with the theory that if something looks like a bear and growls like a bear, then it must be a bear. But we forgot to check if it was a Brown bear.

We forgot this is a guy who once took the coaching job at Davidson and held it for four days.

We had company. You'd be hard-pressed to find a soul on earth who seriously believed Brown wasn't headed for UCLA. Brown included.

It's no wonder CBS's Jim Lampley broke the story that Brown had agreed to a five-year contract with the Bruins. Lampley, a close friend of Brown's, had to believe it. Heck, Brown believed it. After all, he had told UCLA, "I'm taking the job. Thanks for taking me back."

All the signals after that flashed green. UCLA called KU's sports information office for Brown's biography, something of a last-rites deal in coach-switching circles. It means the coach no longer exists at your school. He's going to a better place.

UCLA called a press conference. They'd offered Brown $200,000 a year. Set him up in a basketball camp, tantamout to saying he could wear the crown jewels part time, because that meant trespassing on John Wooden's hallowed ground. Brown told UCLA they were more than fair. He'd go pack. See them later.

It was over. Toto, it looks like Brown isn't in Kansas anymore.

We can only imagine the talk Brown had with himself on the plane to Kansas City International Airport before driving back to Lawrence.

The guy with the horns on one shoulder. The guy with the halo on the other. Go. Don't go.

KU atletic director Bob Frederick knew his only sliver of hope was Brown might be having such a talk with himself.

"I only knew Larry is an emotional person," said Frederick. "I thought it maybe was all over, but I knew I hadn't talked to him. He told me he wouldn't do anything until he spoke with me. And until he told me personally, there might be some way he'd change his mind."

But if he put himself on a Hope-ometer with 1 the lowest reading on a scale of 1 to 10, what were Frederick's hopes?

"About a 1," he said.

"I was worried the minute he agreed to talk to them out there. I'd hoped they'd have to stay on our turf. I didn't want him getting comfortable in their environment. I wanted him looking out the window at where he'd seen 30,000 people cheering him."

Frederick was thinking of the pep rally at Memorial Stadium where adoring students and fans poured out their gratitude for Brown's leading the Jayhawks to the NCAA championship.

"I knew Larry's decision would come down to his heart," said Frederick."It wouldn't be bargaining _ they offered him this, we offered him that. Larry doesn't operate that way. Besides, he knew we were prepared to give him whatever it took.

"I only hoped to tell him that all the people of Lawrence, the state of Kansas, wanted in the worst way for him to stay. By winning an NCAA championship, he had brought the KU tradition back to its highest point and now he had an opportunity to recruit the kinds of players to keep it at that level."

Frederick needn't have rehearsed that speech. Brown already had made it to himself.

As soon as Frederick walked into Brown's house for their meeting, his heart skipped a beat.

Doug Compton, a mutual friend of Brown and Frederick, was there. Compton looked at Frederick. "We've still got a chance," he said.

Brown was on the phone with his agent, Joe Glass. Frederick spent the next 20 minutes talking to KU assistants Alvin Gentry and R.C. Buford and basketball secretary Suzanne McElhaney.

When Brown hung up, he told Frederick, "Let's go into the bedroom, to get away from the phone.

Once there, Brown said, "I'm sorry I put you and the university through all this. I've decided to stay."

"That's great," said Frederick.

"It was just such a sense of relief, that's all I could say," said Frederick. "I felt sorry later I didn't get up and hug him."

But Brown knew how Frederick felt. Their relationship has been especially strong and may have influenced Brown's decision.