Philadelphia 76ers

Brett Brown's dad quietly helps him dodge the deluge

Brett Brown's dad quietly helps him dodge the deluge

Brett Brown was running late. His parents were in town, the Sixers' coach explained to the media pack before Thursday’s loss to Chicago, and he wanted to make sure they made it safely to the Wells Fargo Center through a "tsunami," as he described it.

"So we waited," he said. "And here I am. True story. Proud son."

His dad, Bob, is some five years removed from a 52-year run as a basketball coach (42 as a head man), at seven high schools and three colleges throughout New England. The elder Brown notably went 476-154 and won four state titles as a high school boss in his native Maine, one (in 1978-79) with Brett as his point guard.

An inductee in five halls of fame, Bob is now retired at age 79, or at least as much as he allows himself to be. He still does camps and clinics, still advises coaching friends whenever he's asked. And he takes in 10 or 12 Sixers games a year in person. The rest he watches on TV, either from the Florida retirement community where he and his wife, Bonny, live three months out of the year or in their home in Maine.

He sees things through a coach's eye, notices things the rest of us might not. Like, for instance, Dario Saric's jumper. The rookie forward needs to put more arc on his shot, Bob told his son recently, needs to get his legs under it.

Fair point -- or fayeh point, as Brett says in a New England accent tempered by the 17 years he spent coaching in Australia. (Hall of Famer-to-be Tim Duncan, with whom the younger Brown once worked as a Spurs assistant, has described the accent as “Bostralian.”)

Bob Brown stops far short of being a shadow coach, however.

"He just wants to let me coach and leave me alone," Brett said. "He feels there is a lot going on over my time here, and it's true. But I feel like when he has something, it's usually spot on. It's just delivered very, very infrequently."

The elder Brown confirmed as much when he met with three reporters outside the arena's family lounge before the 102-90 loss to the Bulls -- a game the injury-depleted Sixers trailed by at least eight for the final 22:50.

"I want to be the father that shuts his mouth," Bob said. "If he asks, I'll tell him. Other than that, I don't like to do a lot."

There is a cycle-of-life element to this. Bob was a taskmaster when he coached Brett at South Portland High (nickname: Red Riots) some 40 years ago. Didn't allow tattoos. Or facial hair. Or hair hanging over the collar.

Brett toed the line while in the gym. In the family's kitchen, not so much.

"We ruined many of my mother's dinners," the younger Brown said shortly after being hired as the Sixers' boss in 2013. "It's my nature to be a little bit challenging, and at times combative, so you jump through the hoops with him at practice, and then you'd come home and I'd say, 'Well, I don't agree with you. What are you going to do, suspend me from the dinner table?'"

Which is sort of how it is, not only for coaches and players but fathers and sons: There are times when you have to push them, knowing they will push back.

And there are times when you simply have to support them. Times when you have to walk them through life's tsunamis.

Which is where the two of them are now -- Brett, age 56, nearing the end of the fourth year of an ongoing rebuild, his record a staggering 75-251, but somehow still upbeat, still optimistic. And his dad marveling at his son's outlook.

"I couldn't do it," Bob said. "Even in high school when we lost, I'd get …"

And here he softly growled.

"He gets mad, he goes to bed," the elder Brown said of his son. "He gets up the next morning and boom -- he's going ahead. It's always positive. It's always going ahead. How he does it, I couldn't do it. … That's probably the thing that impresses me the most about what the last four years have been."

Bob Brown was a head man at all three levels of college ball, notably leading Southern Maine to the Division III Final Four in 1988-89, there to lose to a Trenton State team headed by Greg Grant, who spent part of his nine-year NBA career with the Sixers. Brown topped out with a four-year run at Boston University, his alma mater, as well as his son's.

It didn't go well -- the Terriers went 38-73 in his four seasons -- and he headed back to the high school ranks.

He said Thursday there were offers from Rick Pitino, under whom he served as an assistant while Brett played at BU, to come along to Providence in 1985 or Kentucky in 1989. The elder Brown declined to do so.

"I'm a Maine guy," Bob said. "Maine is my blood. I'm a small-town guy. It's not me. I think probably the best thing is, I know it's not me and I stayed the hell away from it."

Much less the sport's highest level.

"I coached 52 years, and I coached a game called basketball," he said. "And that's not pro basketball. And so, what (Brett) has to do and how he coaches is so different than anything in my college and high school career. I know the fundamentals, but I couldn't coach (in the NBA)."

He has watched, though, and he has learned. Some of that education has come through his attendance at training camp the last four years. He was there again last fall, when it looked like the team might finally turn the corner. When it looked like Brett wouldn't be coaching "basketball gypsies" anymore, as he once said.

And then …

"That last 30 minutes, when (Ben) Simmons broke his foot (in a scrimmage), I said, 'Oh my -- here we go again,'" Bob said.

There have been bright spots, like that 10-5 run in January, but the team is limping to the finish line.

Through a tsunami.

And every now and then, Bob reaches out and helps his son find his way through the raindrops. It's what dads do.

Donald Trump starts war with sports, and athletes have united

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Associated Press

Donald Trump starts war with sports, and athletes have united

OAKLAND -- As President Donald Trump lurches closer to certified insanity, he is unwittingly doing the country a great service that, should we survive his dangerously whimsical term, will bring us closer to realizing our potential.

He’s unifying the previously disconnected and energizing the formerly apathetic. He’s even shaming some of those previously beyond shame.

It is because of Trump’s rage, unleashed in a span of less than 24 hours, that the NBA champion Warriors were more united Saturday morning than they were Friday afternoon.

After a speech in Alabama urging NFL owners on Friday to fire any “son of a bitch” who dared to protest peacefully to shine a light on injustices, Trump woke up Saturday and turned his Twitter ire upon Stephen Curry and the Warriors, conceivably the most wholesome representatives of American sports.

“That’s not what leaders do,” Curry said after practice Saturday.

“We know we’re in a fight,” Warriors center David West said. “And we’re going to continue to fight for our right to be human beings.”

But by advocating the job loss of peaceful protesters and then informing the Warriors they are not welcome at the White House -- because Curry said he’s not in favor of going -- we can only hope Trump has flung open a door of activism that never closes.

Trump’s radical combo ignited mighty blasts of blowback from players and coaches and commissioners of the NBA and NFL.

Among the many NBA figures issuing statements in one form or another, with varying degrees of condemnation: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, the players association and commissioner Adam Silver.

“The amount of support I saw around the league this morning was amazing,” Curry said.

Among the many NFL figures who were moved to comment: Seahawks players Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, Broncos lineman Max Garcia, 49ers owner Jed York, New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, Packers boss Mark Murphy, the players association and commissioner Roger Goodell.

Trump has, in short, started a war with American sports.

His strike began with the comments made Friday night that were directed at Colin Kaepernick and others who have declined to stand for the anthem. Trump’s aggression intensified Saturday when he went after Curry in the morning and Goodell in the afternoon.

How did we get here?

The Warriors on Friday announced their plan to meet as a team Saturday morning to decide whether they would accept from the White House the traditional invitation extended to championship teams. Though it was fairly certain they would not, they left open the slightest possibility. General manager Bob Myers had been in contact with White House.

Curry at the time said he, personally, did not wish to go, and then he carefully and patiently expounded on his reasons.

Trump responded, at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, to tell the world that the Warriors would not be invited and, moreover, that Curry’s resistance is the reason.

And all hell broke loose.

The Warriors came back Saturday afternoon with a statement that made clear there no longer would be a team meeting on the subject, that they were disappointed there was no open dialogue and that they will instead utilize their February visit to “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion -- the values we embrace as an organization.”

“Not surprised,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Trump’s decision not to invite the Warriors to the White House. “He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him.”

Trump has fired upon every athlete in America. He is waking up this country in ways we’ve never seen or felt and, my goodness, he’s doing so at a level we’ve needed for centuries.

“Trump has become the greatest mirror for America,” West said. “My cousin . . . she brought that to me. Because there are a lot of things have been in the dark, hidden, and he’s just bold enough to put it out on ‘Front Street.’"

NBA Notes: Warriors spurn White House; Knicks agree to trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder

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USA Today Images

NBA Notes: Warriors spurn White House; Knicks agree to trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder

SOMERSET, N.J. -- President Donald Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes and brought swift condemnation from league executives and star players alike on Saturday.

Wading into thorny issues of race and politics, Trump's comments in a Friday night speech and a series of Saturday tweets drew sharp responses from some of the nation's top athletes, with LeBron James calling the president a "bum."

Trump started by announcing that Curry, the immensely popular two-time MVP for the Golden State Warriors, would not be welcome at the White House for the commemorative visit traditionally made by championship teams after Curry indicated he didn't want to come. Later, Trump reiterated what he said at a rally in Alabama the previous night -- that NFL players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired.

The Warriors said it was made clear to them that they were not welcome at the White House.

Curry had said he did not want to go anyway, but the Warriors had not made a collective decision before Saturday -- and had planned to discuss it in the morning before the president's tweet, to which coach Steve Kerr said : "Not surprised. He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him."

Others had far stronger reactions (see full story).

Knicks agree to trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder
NEW YORK - Carmelo Anthony won't be at Knicks training camp after all. He'll be in Oklahoma City, joining Russell Westbrook and Paul George in a loaded lineup.

The Knicks agreed to trade Anthony to the Thunder on Saturday, saving themselves a potentially awkward reunion next week with the player they'd been trying to deal since last season.

New York will get Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a draft pick, a person with knowledge of the deal said. The person spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been announced.

The Knicks had said just a day earlier that they expected Anthony to be there when they reported for camp Monday. But it was clear they didn't want him anymore and he no longer wanted to be in New York, where he arrived with so much hype that was never fulfilled in February 2011.

He rarely had a championship core around him in New York but jumps right into one in Oklahoma City along with Westbrook, the NBA MVP, and fellow All-Star George, who was acquired from Indiana this summer.

Anthony will see his old teammates soon: The Knicks open the regular season at Oklahoma City on Oct. 19 (see full story).