The Sixers were wrapping up their shootaround at the Moda Center, formerly known as The Rose Garden, Saturday morning and though the 26-7 Trail Blazers will have their attention this evening, football was the topic of conversation.
The NFL playoffs take center stage today and while few are Philadelphia natives on the Sixers' roster, the Eagles hosting the Saints is a big deal.
"Our fellas know it. All of us just can't help but be thrilled for the city," Brett Brown said. "We are excited and even though we have a game, we get what is going on back in Philadelphia."
Brown went to Boston University for college after growing up in Maine. Chip Kelly, a New Hampshire native, went to the University of New Hampshire and as fate would have it, Kelly roomed with Brown's best friend.
For four years there were plenty of UNH-BU road trips. Brown says Kelly could probably share some not great stories about the now Sixers head coach.
"We are both from the same generation. He was UNH, I was BU and he roomed with my closest friend," Brown explained. "They were with each other at UNH for many years and so I have had a long history with Chip. I went to Australia and he went to Oregon, and I was just always aware of how successful he grew to be. From time to time I would bump into him."
Kelly is an innovator, a guy who likes to think outside the box. Brown likes to think he too has some of that in him.
There were some who questioned whether Kelly's system would work at the NFL level and yet here he is, a first-year NFL head coach playing a wild-card game at home after his team went 10-6 -- as opposed to the often predicted 6-10.
"I have known Chip for so many years and been of fan of his at Oregon, and now being thrilled for him in our own city so you pay special attention," Brown said of how he and Kelly's paths have crossed and their careers have blossomed. "Their rebuild has gone extremely quick and I am very proud of him. I am proud of his New England roots and just from Philadelphia's perspective, they bring a real pride to the city."
The Sixers have not captivated the city's attention in the same way, but their current three-game winning streak -- all on the road -- is no small feat for a team that started 1-13 away from the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers conclude their current six-game road trip at 10 p.m. on The Comcast Network against Portland.