Brand still has fondness for Philadelphia

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Elton Brand, who had a season-high 17 points with eight rebounds, returned to Philly to face his ex-teammates for the first time.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Elton Brand, who had a season-high 17 points with eight rebounds, returned to Philly to face his ex-teammates for the first time.
Posted: November 28, 2012

THOUGH HE spent only four seasons here, Elton Brand has a pretty good feel of the pain suffered by the Philadelphia sports fans.

Brand, now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, made his first appearance late in the first quarter Tuesday night and received a nice hand from the crowd. He played 19 minutes and scored a season-high 17 points, to go along with eight rebounds.

Last summer, he was amnestied out of the last year of his 5-year, $80 million contract by the Sixers and picked up by Dallas. Though half of his 14 seasons were spent with the Los Angeles Clippers, Brand holds a special feeling for this area, as his wife and two children still reside here.

Brand was signed by the 76ers in the summer of 2008, fresh off a ruptured Achilles' injury. Then in his first season with the team, he suffered a shoulder injury that limited him to 29 games and stoked the fans' doubt about his large contract.

Brand knows the fan base well. So, he has a pretty good idea what Sixers center Andrew Bynum is going through as the anticipated savior deals with knee problems that have prohibited him from taking the court yet this season.

"It's tough as a player," Brand said. "I came here with high aspirations, sort of similar to Bynum, and getting hurt was tough. But you have to keep grinding and try to get out there. I think it will turn out well for the city and well for the fans. Hopefully, he can get out there and play, if not this season, then next season and add his low-post presence to all those shooters they added.

"It's tough. You have to weigh what's best. If you come back too early, it could really complicate things even further, and there will be no contract at all if you get hurt again, so you definitely have to weigh that when you're a player coming off of injury."

He also feels the pain of the Philly faithful.

"It might seem like the city is jinxed," Brand said. "They were about to win the World Series [Phillies in 2008] and I think it snowed [to delay the title]. [Fans said] 'God's against us'. But they ended up winning that World Series and I think the basketball team will eventually turn that corner and guys will be healthy and they'll turn it around. It's just been some bad luck."

While it would be difficult to get Brand to say a bad word about almost anyone, it's impossible to find anything but praise for him.

"You think back and how blessed I've been to coach certain people, I wish I could have coached Elton one year in his prime," Doug Collins said. "I saw him every single day, and this guy is as professional as anybody I've ever been around. I see him and those hands that are banged up, holding a basketball before games, squeezing the ball just to get himself ready, walking around with those leg weights, doing his exercises. We miss that soul, because E.B. is all about winning. When I see E.B., I can give him a hug and be thankful for my time with him."

Mutual admiration

The admiration was overflowing at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday. At the Mavericks morning shootaround, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle had this to say about Doug Collins: "He's the best coach in the league. Pound for pound, there's no better coach than Doug Collins. He's doing a great job with them. They don't have [Andrew] Bynum, who was the focal point of what they were doing. But with the pieces they've got, they're playing great basketball."

Without any prompting, Collins said of Carlisle: "Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the NBA. Even with missing Dirk [Nowitzki], one thing you know about a Rick Carlisle team is that there will never be any excuses. This is a guy who lived through the situation at the Palace with Indiana and all the suspensions and still found a way for his team to get into the playoffs, so he's one of these guys who figures out ways to win."

Collins was referring to the brawl that took place between the Detroit Pistons and Carlisle's Indiana Pacers in 2004. Carlisle lost Ron Artest for the rest of the season, as well as Stephen Jackson for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal for 15. The Pacers still wound up with a 44-38 record and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: philly.com/Sixerville

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