By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report/The Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—Everyone in the 76ers organization, along with fans and media, is bracing themselves for a season where they’re not going to win many games.
But new Sixers head coach Brett Brown told everyone at his press conference on Wednesday that it wouldn’t be that way forever and that there’s light at the end of what some see as an endless tunnel.
“I hope that everybody understands the level of patience that we’re all going to have, not acceptance. Patience,” Brown said, his thick New England accent perfuming the air. “Because when we’re not playing hard and we’re not executing well, they will be coached. They should be coached, that’s my job.
“But when you step back and you see that we’re undermanned, then we have to patient and grow it, develop it, free agent it and let a ping-pong ball [determine], those types of things. That’s the evolution we’re just going to have to expect.”
Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie said the thing he likes about Brown, who signed a four-year contract with the team, is the ability to understand that building a winner doesn’t happen overnight.
“I like long-term thinkers. I like people who get up and put their hard hat on every single day,” Hinkie said. “I like people who can see the big picture and who think about how important the foundation is to the third floor when you get the old thing built. Doing the foundation right really matters and that really resonated with me.”
Brown does bring a pretty good coaching pedigree to the Sixers. He has four NBA Championship rings as an assistant to San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich. Brown also coached in the Australian National Basketball League where he won a championship for the North Melbourne Giants in 1994.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, Brown coached the Australian national team to a 3-3 record, which was one of the best Olympics runs in the history of Australian basketball. Brown played his collegiate ball at Boston University under Louisville and soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino.
A native of Maine, Brown played for his high school basketball for his father, Bob Brown, a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
After working in the basketball heaven that was San Antonio where he coached players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, Brown certainly has his work cut out for him with a young team that includes rookies like former Syracuse star Michael Carter Williams and Kentucky big man Nerlins Noel.
But the one thing that seems to bode well for Brown is his background in player development. During his time with the Spurs, player development was Brown’s specialty as an assistant coach.
“We need a staff, we need a mentality that’s going to be heavily, heavily focused on development and it’s going to start with me and it’s going to start with a structure where we’re practicing now and then to evolution of a new practice facility,” Brown said.
“Pre-practice work, video work, all those things contribute to how you develop somebody whether it’s Tony Parker’s jump shot, Bruce Bowen realizing that everybody double-teams Tim Duncan so you better be skilled at that single floor spot in the corner,” Brown continued… “We got fantastic development people in San Antonio…We’ve really have paid a lot of attention to that area.”
With the relatively young players that he has like Thaddeus Young, Brown, like his old mentor Popovich, is a defensive-minded coach. During his press conference, he made it clear that Sixers won’t sacrifice the offensive end of the floor for defense.
“We want to go, we want to get out in open court and we want to run,” Brown said. “One of the main things we’re going to look at is pace …We’re going to run …It’s hard running over 82 games. You really can’t do that unless have an extraordinary fitness base and you play 10 or 11 deep.
“I hope that you’re going to see a team that’s exciting offensively and that is appreciated with the competitiveness and toughness defensively,” he said.
If anything else, Brown does understand the odds of rebuilding a team from loser to a perennial powerhouse are stacked against him. But for him that’s the beauty of this job.
“Can you imagine if we can get this thing right?” Brown said. “Really? If we can get this right with the culture and the history that this city has, with the pride and the toughness that this city has, that is very alluring. It’s tempting. It’s dangerous. Rebuilding is a hard thing. I feel thrilled to be here.”