BOSTON -- There was quite a media throng at the conclusion of the Sixers' shootaround this morning and most of them were on hand to see Brett Brown, who was born and raised in South Portland, Maine, a quaint New England town that is less than two hours driving from Boston.
When the Sixers face the Celtics tonight at TD Garden, Brown will be making his debut as a head coach in Boston, a town that had great influence on his basketball career.
“What a thrill to be here, I am grateful to be here,” Brown said. “I grew up down [I-]95 and I came to see the Celtics for so many years and spent all my days at Boston University and I have fantastic memories, a long time ago, but of this city. So to be able to come back here as a head coach in the NBA is a true privilege and an honor.”
TD Garden opened in 1995. It was the Boston Garden where Brown has memories of playing and seeing games. As a player, the parquet floor created quite the challenge.
“We played Boston College and we lost that game,” Brown said of his first ever college game at Boston Garden as a member of Boston University. “I remember you would be dribbling the ball and flying up the court and the ball would just be absorbed into one of the parquet squares and you wanted to tell Coach Pitino that it wasn’t me not dribbling hard, it just got absorbed in the court.”
That parquet floor was infamous for its dead spots and not laying flush from square to square. But Brown said while it could lead to unwanted turnovers, it could also help one on the defensive end of the floor.
“You could turn it into a positive playing defense because you would know where to go for steals,” Brown said. “That old building had great memories. As infrequently as I played on it, that was part of the pregame ritual. I would just dribble all around and find the dead spots.”
Memories will also come racing back for Brown because family and friends will be in attendance. In particular, his parents will be present. Both are retired but his mom taught second grade for three decades and his dad was a basketball coach up until a couple years ago. Brown is proud to say he stole a number of things from the way his dad coached the game and adapted them to his own style.
“Doing the right thing, taking a prideful approach,” Brown said. “Try to be professional with what you are doing, not trying to cut corners. Really it's about the details.”
Brown played for his dad in high school. The starting point guard, Brown remembers that time as one where discipline was critical and the consequences of not doing what was asked was something you never wanted to know.
"You had to have your hair cut above your ears," Brown shared. “You had one dinner roll at pregame meal. You had to wear a hat every second after you came out of the shower and if you didn’t do these, he would suspend you in a heartbeat.”
Brown never got suspended and always showed respect toward his coach, but when it was dinnertime in the Brown house, exchanging ideas was allowed.
“I could come back to the dinner table and say I don’t agree with that at all, I think we should be doing this,” Brown said. "It is an interesting life, being wives and children of serious coaches.”