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THIS TIME SPURS FIRE LARRY BROWN FOR REAL TO END STRANGE EPISODE

Larry Brown was fired today as coach of the San Antonio Spurs and replaced by Bob Bass, the team's vice president of basketball operations.

The Spurs struggled to a 21-17 record this season after two years as Midwest Division champions."Larry was more and more feeling that I didn't have the confidence in him that he would have liked to have had," owner Red McCombs said.

McCombs said Brown did not show up for a 9 a.m. meeting today, and when contacted by team officials later said he wanted to be fired.

"He asked to be made sure to be clear that he was not resigning, that he was being terminated," McCombs said. "It's a very unusual situation to be asked to be terminated."

McCombs refused say whether Brown's request had contractual ramifications. Brown was in the final year of a four-year contract worth $3.5 million. He was 153-131 with the Spurs. The team had its best year in 1989-90, finishing 56-26. The Spurs were 55-27 last season.

"Larry has made a great contribution here," McCombs said. "We are all the better for it. I wish it was the kind of thing that could have lasted forever."

Bass, who coached the team when it was in the American Basketball Association, will take over for the rest of the year. Bass has asked not to be considered for the job beyond this season.

The decision comes after a day of reports that McCombs had first fired, then rehired Brown after a heated meeting with players and coaches. Forward Sean Elliott declined comment about the meeting, except to say, "There was a lot of yelling."

"We had a lot of people today say a lot of things that needed to be said," assistant coach Gregg Popovich said. "You've got to face problems before you solve them. It was an unbelievably candid, honest and sensitive meeting and afterward we had our best practice of the year."

McCombs attended the 11/2-hour practice, after which he told Brown he could keep his job, a television report said.