Brown says he wants what fans want - for Sixers to become a winner

Posted: August 16, 2013

IF YOU'RE LOOKING to get a hold on what direction the 76ers are headed, newly named head coach Brett Brown put it pretty succinctly at the end of his news conference yesterday when he was introduced to the media at the Wells Fargo Center.

"To come in here and see the interest . . . Everybody wants the same thing, that's what I see," Brown said. "I look out here and I see committed Philadelphia fans wanting to see a product that has a chance and that they can be proud of. I'm here to try to help grow it. I hope that everybody understands the level of patience that we're all going to have. Not acceptance, patience. Because when we're not playing hard and we're not executing well, then they will be coached. They should be coached. That's my job. But when you step back and you say we're just undermanned, then we have to be patient and grow it and develop it and free-agent it and let a pingpong ball drop - those types of things. That's the normal path, the evolution that we're just going to have to accept."

There you have it. During his 45-minute Q-and-A, one thing was clearer than Brown's New England accent - his clarity on the gargantuan task he has accepted in becoming the franchise's eighth head coach in 11 seasons. There are no false visions of immediate playoff runs or of turning the franchise around with smoke and mirrors. Brown is a roll-up-the-sleeves kind of basketball man who sees no other way to get to an elite level besides hard work, a strong desire to improve as a player, and holding oneself accountable for each and every action.

After a search of nearly 120 days, general manager Sam Hinkie explained that his first head-coaching hire took a long time because of his methodical ways and his commitment to find someone who was going to be able to grow players and, thus, take the organization to a higher level over the next few years. Brown signed a guaranteed 4-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Throughout this process, it became more and more clear to us, with all of the research that we did, that he had many of the qualities that were important for this stage for us and important for the next stage for us," Hinkie said. "We think he has the ability to be a great, great coach in this league. He has a real, real passion for player development, and he shares a lot of the values that are important to me and important to our owners."

Having grown up in Maine and played collegiately at Boston University, Brown knows about 76ers basketball. He was in Boston Garden with his father, legendary high school coach Bob Brown, watching the battles of Julius Erving and Larry Bird. He knows of the devotion Philly fans want to feel for this organization. And, most important, he knows it will take some time and a whole lot of patience to get to where the fans want the organization to be.

"I know a lot has been made about the process and the length of time that it took for the final decision to be made on who is going to coach the Philadelphia 76ers," Brown said. "For me, it was a tremendous opportunity to research a job that I was very interested in. Having spent so much time in New England and in Boston, I am acutely aware of the proud history of this city and the competitiveness of this city and how the city respects and demands the same type of people that I do as a coach. You get excited to be a part of the rebuild. We all know that the pain of rebuilding is real. We all will experience it. It isn't something that happens quickly. That is a fact; that is the truth. There needs to be a tolerance, there needs to be a patience. It became very clear that if I was going to leave a position like San Antonio and the fantastic organization and the people I have worked with for 13 years, that it had better be for the right [situation]. We have a lot of work ahead of us."

Brown, 52, spent the past seven seasons on the bench next to head coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio after 6 years prior in different positions. He is considered to be a teacher of the game, a gym rat, a coach's son who can't get enough of the game and thrives on teaching the styles and intangibles that were a necessary part of four title runs during his time with the Spurs.

It certainly helped that the Spurs were loaded with talent in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but talent alone doesn't win championships, and Brown was quick to point out that, while those three are among the best players in the NBA, they were the ones who had a desire to get better every day. That is a lesson he will pass along to what certainly will be a painfully young roster, once it is filled out.

"The first word that comes to my mind, for whatever reason, is accountability," said Brown, when asked how Popovich might influence his coaching style. "A mistake made against the Miami Heat in Game 6 [of the NBA Finals] is dealt with like we would deal with a mistake against Charlotte in January. There is a brutal honesty in regards to accountability. When I think of him, I think of that. There's a human side to 'Pop' that people don't even understand. He's a good man. But there's a toughness and a competitiveness and demanding, non-negotiable stance that you can't but bring with you. It's highly influencing."

And, obviously, highly successful. The process here is starting from the foundation. There is little around which to build now. Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes are the returning starters. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams probably will gobble up the most time at point guard. Fellow rookie Nerlens Noel is iffy as to how much he'll play this season after tearing an ACL at Kentucky in February.

Brown talked of a new practice facility (which is in the planning stage), his excitement to have an NBA Development League team right down the highway (Delaware 87ers) and his excitement to rebuild. He said he has studied the organization and where the vision is directed. He probably could have waited for Popovich to call it a career and step into that spot. Instead, he chose Philly.

"At the end of our discussions, it became very real what I was going to be leaving," Brown said. "I think it's a healthy truth that I can share, because when you can step back and say, 'This is what I have had.' And now are you prepared to leave with your family and the stability?

"I'm not a gypsy coach. I like staying someplace. I like a commitment from both sides. Can you imagine if we can get this thing right? Really. If we can this right with the culture and the history that this city has, and the pride and the toughness that this city has, that is very luring. It's tempting. There were times I wasn't sure, based on what I had, if I wanted to chance it. I think this is a very high-calculated chance. It's dangerous. Rebuild is always a very hard thing, but I feel just thrilled to be here. Now it's putting the right people in the right places. There's a lot of work to be done, but I'm just thrilled to be here."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76