76ers

Brett Brown denies Christmas dessert to Pacers assistant Dan Burke, who said Joel Embiid 'gets away with a bunch of crap'

Brett Brown denies Christmas dessert to Pacers assistant Dan Burke, who said Joel Embiid 'gets away with a bunch of crap'

CAMDEN, N.J. — A big smile grew across Brett Brown's face Tuesday as a reporter carefully posed to him the question of whether he’d take an opponent saying “we hate those guys” as a compliment.

The question was alluding to comments by longtime Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke shown Monday during the Fox Sports Indiana broadcast of the Pacers' game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Burke, who oversees the Pacers’ defense, did not hide his distaste for the Sixers after his team’s 119-116 loss in Philadelphia on Saturday night.

"I hate that team,” Burke said. “I really wanted to win that game. I think [Joel] Embiid gets away with a bunch of crap the league ignores. It would have been a good one to just walk away from."

Embiid had 32 points and 11 rebounds in the Sixers' win over Indiana. He also received a Flagrant 1 foul for “unnecessary contact made to the head” of Domantas Sabonis.

Embiid later fouled out Sabonis and made all 15 of his free throws.

Brown knew all of that context, but he didn't appear familiar with Burke's comments. He wants his team to be difficult to play against and he doesn’t mind if the byproduct of that is sometimes an … intense dislike.

Absolutely. One of the questions that comes up from me to them sometimes as a group, sometimes as individuals, is your exact thing: What would you want them to say? What would it look like? Who are we? Whether it's style of play, whether it's character, whether it's deep, whatever it is, it is. It's an interesting question to ask — how do you want to be judged? What would you want an opposition player, team coach, whatever, to say about you? What would you like to feature on a scout tape? ... You better box Ben Simmons out, because here it is. You better take away Joel Embiid's deep catches — whatever it is, it is. And to your question, it would be received as a compliment. 

Embiid posts up more than any other player in the league, while the Sixers as a team already have 313 post-up possessions in 21 games — 115 more than the Spurs, the next highest team. They’re an atypical team, and opponents need to come up with specific strategies to counter. 

Brown then learned that it was a Pacers assistant who’d said he hated his team. Still, he didn’t mind.

“I would bring him to my house for Christmas and he could share in the Christmas dinner," he said.

He asked whether the hatred stemmed from the Sixers’ physical play, and was then informed that Burke had targeted Embiid.

That led Brown to change his tune a bit.

“Well, he would not be able to have dessert, because I don't agree with him,” he said. “But he could still eat at the house if it was delivered the way you just said. If it was offered as a compliment to bully ball and tough and physical and yes, we have a post-up team — dinner. If he's hitting Joel, no dessert. That's how it works.”

Christmas will have come and gone by the next time the Sixers see the Pacers on Dec. 31, but perhaps Brown will still extend an invitation. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

sixers-talk-ben-simmons-dunk-knicks.jpg
NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

On the latest Sixers Talk podcast presented by Wilmington University, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss Ben Simmons' recent play since Joel Embiid went out with an injury, how alarming the Al Horford situation is becoming, and a possible reunion with Robert Covington.

• No, Simmons hasn't scored late in games, but he's been attacking the rim and causing opponents to make plenty of business decisions.

• How worried should we be about Horford's up-and-down season?

• Would a RoCo reunion make sense? What would you give up?

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers Injury Update: Al Horford is questionable vs. Nets with left hand sprain

Sixers Injury Update: Al Horford is questionable vs. Nets with left hand sprain

The Sixers might be without their best two center options for Monday afternoon’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Al Horford is questionable with a left hand sprain. He sustained the injury with 6:31 left in the third quarter Saturday night vs. the Knicks after being fouled by Reggie Bullock.

"Yeah, I just took a fall there, landed on the hand,” Horford told reporters. “We’ll see where we’re at tomorrow. It’s pretty sore right now, but I’m just glad I was able to stay in the game and give the team whatever I could. … It’s definitely uncomfortable. In this game you always play through injuries and things like that. I just wanted to make sure that I did what I could. We’ll see where I’m at tomorrow, and hopefully good to go for Monday.”

Horford scored a season-low four points vs. the Knicks on 2 for 9 shooting. In the six games since Joel Embiid has been out because of a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand, the Sixers have gone 4-2 with Horford as their starting center.

According to multiple reports, Norvel Pelle will be listed as available but his status could change. The team is in a precarious situation with Pelle, who has one NBA day remaining on his two-way contract. The Sixers have opted against converting Pelle to an NBA deal for the time being to prioritize flexibility ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline, which has left them in this spot. The 26-year-old rookie has played 13 NBA games and averaged 2.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

On Friday vs. the Bulls, the Sixers decided not to use up one of Pelle’s NBA days, and Kyle O’Quinn played nearly 16 minutes, his first action of 2020.

It looks like Ben Simmons playing some at center could be a possibility. Brett Brown used Simmons as a small-ball five in the first half on Jan. 9 vs. Boston and after the game said, “I suspect you’ll see it again.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers