The Sixers are looking to build a winning culture
Brett Brown's Sixers have won five of their first nine, including games against the Heat, Bulls and Rockets. (USA Today Images)
You could usually tell with Doug Collins. Postgame, on the podium, after a win or loss, he wore his emotions like cuff links. Larry Brown had this thing where you’d be scratching your head. He’d appear maudlin after wins. Happy after losses. But that was Lawrence Harvey for you.
You can never tell with Brett Brown. His demeanor is as solid as the jagged Maine coastline. Waves, wind, wins, losses. It’s always the same.
It’s Brown’s comportment that is perfect for a young, mercurial group like your 2013-14 76ers. A team with a young nucleus and an even younger supporting cast. A team that wasn’t supposed to win, but is winning. A team that is winning, but at some point might slide into a funk that is inevitable over 82 games.
“Together We Build” is the slogan. Indeed the big picture portends a fine future -- Nerlens Noel, two first-round picks in a loaded 2014 draft, cap room. But the foundation of what will eventually be built is just now being cast. The ground still needs to be leveled, the lot cleared of rocks. And watch out if that digger hits a gas line. ...
Through it all, Brown has had to be patient. Very, very patient. This is a man with an impressive basketball bloodline. He learned from his father, Bob, a New England Basketball Hall of Famer, who coached the game for more than a half-century. He played for Rick Pitino, a two-time NCAA champion. And for 11 years he assisted San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who learned from Larry Brown, who learned from Dean Smith, who learned from Phogg Allen, who learned from James Naismith, the game’s inventor. So, knowing what he knows about the game, Brown has had to coach himself to be patient with the young and raw who dot the Sixers' roster.
The Sixers have already benefited from Brown’s coaching. The freedom he gives the players on offense allows them to find themselves and expand their games. When they make mistakes, he encourages them to use those mistakes as teaching tools. On the defensive end, he keeps it simple, gradually introducing more complicated schemes and strategies as he goes.
Brown is used to greatness. He was part of all four NBA titles in San Antonio. He helped to develop, then watch their players become great and eventually, win. So his transition to the Sixers' state of affairs had to come quickly. He has made that transition seamlessly. Which is why you need to watch the entire Sixers game to find out what happened. You see, it might be tough to tell by the postgame expression of Brett Brown whether his team has won or lost.