5 takeaways from Brett Brown’s fiery end-of-season press conference

5 takeaways from Brett Brown’s fiery end-of-season press conference

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown is staying in Philadelphia, and he had a lot to say Tuesday at his end-of-season press conference about the reports he might be fired, the culture he’s built with the Sixers and what’s next for the team.

Here are five takeaways from his press conference, which lasted almost 45 minutes:


Brown is rarely short on fire. He enjoys talking about his players, his program and basketball in general. His demeanor Tuesday, however, was different from the norm. This was a new level, even for him.

He was proud of the culture he has built in his six years as head coach.

People are treated well here. Forget my words, listen to the players. And so for us to be able to retain, recruit, grow, empower, watch this program unfold — are you serious? This is incredibly exciting. Here we are with a 22-year-old All-Star and a 25-year-old All-Star and people that want to be here, and Elton [Brand] is going to do his job, and Josh [Harris] and [David Blitzer] are so driven to provide the resources to win a championship. Look across the water. To me, it’s like, what are we missing? To me, we have everything we need to move this program forward. Your question about culture, we’re proud of the fights we’ve had to fight in order to do what we’ve done. Culture is a word that means something to me and means something to us. And I believe that we’ve delivered. 

One exchange with a reporter about when exactly Brown learned he would indeed be returning as coach turned combative. Brown explained that Harris and he have had direct discussions throughout this tenure about his status as coach, with the last one occurring during the Toronto series.

“I was completely aware of how he saw my role in the future as the playoffs unfolded,” Brown said.

When the reporter asked Brown whether that meant Harris had told him he’d be staying on, his response was sharp.

“What language do I have to say it in? Yes.”

Thoughts on all the noise 

Because Brown’s future — at least publicly — remained uncertain until late Monday night, his players supported him strongly at their exit interviews.

Brown said their support made him “proud,” noting it “validates in perhaps a more defined way that the program is on track.”

He didn’t have a problem with the Sixers’ organization putting his players in a position where, the day after a devastating loss, they had to be asked about their coach’s job status and whether he deserved to hold his role.

“This is my sixth year in Philadelphia,” he said. “I have been fired every one of these years. It’s true. It’s Philadelphia. Every single one of these years somebody has me not coming back. And it will happen again next year, early. I’m just fine with them not responding to the noise that surfaced.”

‘This is a destination’ 

Brown preached often about the Sixers being a “destination,” which makes sense given the Sixers have eight unrestricted free agents and two players with player options. Some of what he said was clearly catered toward those free agents. He preached about the Sixers’ culture, the city of Philadelphia, how his team shares the ball, and their potential to be a title contender, painting the Sixers as a team any player would enjoy being a part of.

Much of what he said, though, didn’t seem shrewd or calculated. He was blunt about the extent to which he feels the team has grown during his tenure.

“I put sort of my rearview mirror hat on and I remember going to PCOM,” he said. “We were in PCOM. Think about that — we were in PCOM. I had one court. I wouldn’t even go down to my players’ locker room. I was ashamed — I didn’t even want to go down there. And now we’ve arrived at a place where we have a chance for annual success. We have a chance to annually knock out 50-win seasons and truly contest for a championship. I can’t look at you more sincerely and say that. This is a destination. It wasn’t when I came here. In fact, it wasn’t even close.”

He wants to run it back 

Unlike 11 months ago, when Brown was the Sixers’ interim general manager, decisions about the draft and free agency are not primarily in his hands. He said Monday “the money side of it all and the strategy of how do we build this team” will fall on Brand, Harris and Blitzer.

But Brown does have a strong preference to keep the core of the Sixers together. He spoke at length about his evolving relationship with Jimmy Butler and glowed about Tobias Harris’ basketball and human qualities.

“There is a connection from just a human being side that is also a fit for this program,” Brown said. “He’s incredibly polished; he’s elegant. He’s all class.”

Brown wants more than a mere 10 regular-season and 11 playoff games together with this starting lineup.

“The ability to have a team back and have corporate knowledge and continuity and carryover, that’s when you can take off,” he said. “That’s when coaching and playing has a chance to go to a higher level.”

The months ahead 

Though reluctant to divulge too many specifics, Brown did express confidence that, through a “holistic” offseason program, Joel Embiid would arrive in September “in the best shape that he’s been since he’s been a Philadelphia 76er.”

He also addressed questions about Ben Simmons and his plan to continue working with his brother Liam on his shot this summer. Brown, who said he’s known Liam since he was 4 years old, disagreed with the notion that Simmons might not be challenged enough by his brother.

“In fact, I think that with the family there is an insulation, in a good way, to call him out, to help him get into a gym,” Brown said.

An offseason priority for Brown himself, outside of free agency and the development of his young stars, will be revamping his coaching staff. With the departures of Billy Lange and Monty Williams to take head coaching jobs with Saint Joseph’s and the Phoenix Suns, respectively, Brown has two spots to fill: 

“As I search and try to find with Elton who’s going to be on the bench, what are we going to do behind the bench, there are skills, there are ways people see the world — are you an offensive guy or are you a defensive guy type of thing that will factor into the new hire. As time unfolds, I think in the next month, we will be able to make who’s going to be replacing Monty, as an example.”

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Brett Brown responds to Glenn Robinson III's comments: 'This is a show me league'

Brett Brown responds to Glenn Robinson III's comments: 'This is a show me league'

Glenn Robinson III had some concerning remarks about his role in an interview with Basketball Insiders. The veteran wing said that it was “not really explained” and that he doesn’t “really understand it.”

In Brett Brown’s pregame availability before the Sixers’ home game against the Knicks, the head coach responded to Robinson’s comments.

“About six seconds before I came out here, we spoke and I did see that quote. ... And that is not true. With all of our players, you sit down and you go through this clearly. After All-Star break, every single one of them got a roadmap — this is your role, this is what we expect.”

Speaking to reporters in the locker room before the game, Robinson did get the chance to add clarity to what he said.

"I think some of it got a little blown out of proportion, but it was just really like figuring out my role here," he said. "What did I get brought here to do? How can I help this team? I understand that both me and [Alec Burks], we were brought here to help this team win and that's what it's about."

When Robinson was brought in along with Burks from the Golden State Warriors, they both seemed to have clear roles. Burks would provide a scoring punch off the bench while Robinson provided an ideal 3-and-D wing.

That hasn’t exactly come to fruition. We’ve seen flashes of what Burks can do — especially in the Sixers’ overtime win over Brooklyn — but Robinson has struggled since a strong debut. He’s 0 of 9 from three and hasn’t made the defensive impact the team was hoping for.

Both players were in the midst of career years on expiring deals, meaning a possible lucrative free agency payday was on the horizon. Brown gets all that goes into a midseason trade but needs Robinson to provide what the head coach believes he can.

“I get when you have a career year on a poor team and it's a contract year, I understand it. I coached those years myself,” Brown said. “And so in the middle of all of it, he's good people. He's a good person and he's trying to figure out what his next step is while coexisting in a team framework. …

“I think that he has an important role to play here. We hope to see more of it. But as I said to him, and I'll say it again, this is a show me league and here it is, and this is what we expect and hope to see. And from time to time, we have seen that. I think that he is a league keeper.”

Down All-Stars Ben Simmons (lower back impingement) and Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain), there should be plenty of minutes up for grabs. Robinson should get a closer look while in the starting lineup Wednesday.

After talking with Brown, does Robinson have a clearer picture of his role?

"I'm just really at that wing spot just competing every night and playing hard and really just letting him figure that out, and I just control what I can control on my end."

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Glenn Robinson III on his role with the Sixers: ‘I don’t really understand it’

Glenn Robinson III on his role with the Sixers: ‘I don’t really understand it’

Glenn Robinson III was having by far the best season of his NBA career, starting for the Warriors, averaging 12.9 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

Then he was traded to the Sixers.

Since being acquired by the Sixers along with Alec Burks, Robinson has started two games, come off the bench in four and missed all nine of his three-point attempts.

In an interview with Basketball Insiders’ Spencer Davies, he did not sound pleased with his situation.

Even when (Golden State) played Philly, I showed them what I could do,” Robinson told Davies. “So to play those consistent minutes a night and perform well … that’s the most disappointing part about coming here is that — both of us (are) coming off career years where we’re looking at hopefully big numbers after the season. I know I’ve got a family to feed. So you think about all those things.

“All those things play a role, and then when you come here and your role’s not really explained or you don’t know what’s going on with the trade — it’s not like it was a trade where you come in and immediately have an impact. It’s a little different, so … this team is full of wings, full of guys who can play. So really, I don’t really understand it. But it’s a business, you’ve got to make it happen and go out and try to do your best every night.

Though the Sixers have actually gone 4-2 with Robinson, the team has been in a state of constant change since acquiring him and Burks. Since Robinson has joined, the Sixers have used five different starting lineups. They’ll have to use a sixth Thursday night vs. the Knicks with Joel Embiid out because of a left shoulder sprain. Ben Simmons will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks with nerve impingement in his lower back. 

Robinson had a promising first game after the trade, scoring 10 points on 5 for 6 shooting against the Bulls and moving sharply off the ball, but it’s certainly true that Brett Brown has yet to find a clear role for him.

Last Friday, Robinson talked about the adjustment of moving in the middle of the season. 

“It’s always different,” he said. “You come into a new team and there’s new plays, new personnel. I think that they’ve came it pretty simple when both AB and I have been on the court. Like I said, it’s always different and you kind of learn on the fly and adjust. But teammates have been great, kind of telling us where to be and what to do during the games.”

The 26-year-old is in his second stint with Brown and the Sixers after playing 10 games in Philadelphia his rookie season. 

He still expressed some optimism to Davies that the team can turn the season around. 

“A lot of talent. I think we can go as far as we stick together and want to go,” Robinson told Davies. “We’ve just got a lot of great players and they know how to play the game. That’s the biggest thing, so as long as we can stick together, come together … it’s about defense for this group. We’ve got all the talent in the world to score. I think that we’ve got high chances.”

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