The Sixers embrace their trip overseas
Brett Brown spent 16 seasons with the Spurs organization before becoming the Sixers' head coach. (USA Today Images)
Brett Brown is in store for new experiences and new challenges in his first year as head coach of the Sixers.
As those new things present themselves, Brown can’t help but use his time in San Antonio, where he was an assistant coach to Gregg Popovich, to push through.
And why wouldn’t he? The Spurs have been the gold standard of the NBA for more then a decade, winning 50 or more games for 14 consecutive years.
Yes, the Spurs have three future hall of fame players who have played together for a decade, but San Antonio also developed a culture of playing smart at both ends of the floor.
Brown is steering his Sixers team in that direction, but it will be a process. He is not expecting to see “smart” in the team’s first two preseason games being played in Europe.
“Inevitably you foul a lot,” Brown said of young inexperienced teams. “You can gamble a lot, you can make poor reads. But those aggressive types of mistakes at this stage are good. I see it being ratty in those areas because they are trying to play so hard.”
The goal for Brown is to take his team’s aggression and teach them to be intelligent with it.
“If you looked at my history with my old job and I am trying not to bring up Spurs too much,” Brown said with a laugh when training camp ended Wednesday. “We took great pride in that. We were always featured amongst the league’s best in not fouling and yet we still played good defense.”
“So there is an education and discipline with young guys,” Brown continued. “You wind them up to play hard but you have to groom them to play smart.”
During his five-day training camp, Brown did reach out to his friend, and now peer, Popovich, to bounce ideas off him and even seek a little guidance.
“We have played text tag,” Brown said and then he corrected himself. “Actually I text him. He has never texted a day in his life. I say, ‘hey I am thinking of you’ and then I’ll get a voicemail from him with his thoughts.”
“He has been through a lot of these things. I have not,” Brown continued. “He shares about the excitement that this is starting more than wisdom points. He did say, ‘have at it, enjoy, it but get it done.’”
Popovich is not the only veteran coach Brown consults.
During the Sixers training camp at Saint Joseph’s University, coaches like Jeff Van Gundy, Jack Ramsay, Jim Lynam and Gene Shue stopped by to see the team practice.
Brown said the more, the merrier.
“How lucky am I to be in this city with some pretty good basketball minds and be able to say, ‘come look at it, what do you think?’” Brown said. “I enjoy learning. I am always on edge that you don’t know as much as you wish you did or should, and I like having these types in the gym. They are welcome.”