The Sixers had just lost 107-99 to the Wizards dropping their record to 13-28. Unlike their previous two games, it was a competitive contest despite trailing by as many as 21 points.
Attending media were waiting in a hallway at the Verizon Center for Brett Brown to come out and talk about the game when a few Sixers' players came out of the locker room in practice gear and went through a door to the arena's practice court. A couple assistant coaches followed.
It is not an everyday ritual for a game to be over and practice to start, so I asked Brown about it.
“They want to do a little bit extra,” Brown said. “I have a great staff and I have said many times that I respect the work ethic of our players. I have development coaches in Billy Lange and Greg Foster who I think are A-plus. Players respect them, they trust them. There was no mandate. It wasn’t punishment. It is a part of the plan and the process of building a program from the ground up.
“I think it is one of the many examples of us just trying to put in extra work to do everything that we can to develop players."
The season is halfway over and the team has lost more then twice the number times they have been victorious. That is not easy to go through. The other team too often is making more shots or grabbing more rebounds. The opposition is stronger or has more talent and too often it adds up to being inferior on a given day.
“It is really hard but we have been doing this for a while,” Brown said. “You could see me in two weeks and maybe we win two in a row or maybe we do what we did on the west coast or we drop seven and lay an egg like we did against Miami and Chicago -- that’s the Philadelphia 76ers for 2013-14.”
The coach’s honesty should be appreciated. Selling what clearly isn’t there would be a tough sell and it also could open Brown and his players up for far greater criticism.
“That is what I signed up for and that is what these guys are aware of,” Brown explained. “It is a challenge but I have character people in here. They will wake up tomorrow. We will get dusted off and go back at it again and it is just part of us playing a game that we hope is respected and playing it with energy.”
“We understand the nature of this year’s team,” Brown added. “We just hope to gain some respect in the NBA fraternity and mostly amongst ourselves. We want to walk out holding our head high.”
There is irony in that Wednesday night the Sixers visit the Knicks who have a comparable record (15-26) but they are viewed as a miserable, dysfunctional group. Then again, the Knicks have a payroll that says they should be contending for a championship.
The Knicks have the second-highest team salary and the Sixers are 30th in a 30-team league.