76ers

Brett Brown is right coach for Sixers, city of Philadelphia right now

Brett Brown is right coach for Sixers, city of Philadelphia right now

A lot has changed in six years. 

When Brett Brown was hired as the Sixers' head coach, the Doug Collins era had just ended, Sam Hinkie was about to perform a massive roster overhaul and the team practiced at an embarrassing facility unfit for an NBA team. 

Brown didn't exactly inherit a dream job. He inherited one that was perfect for him. 

Since then, the Sixers opened a beautiful waterfront practice facility to go along with a roster chock full of superstars. With that has come a sharp uptick in expectations and a tremendous amount of pressure on the head coach.

Brown gets all that. It's part of the gig. He has thick enough of skin to handle it. 

Though a nice chunk of the fan base will disagree, Brown is the right coach for Philadelphia.

We all love drama here in Philly. There's a reason the backup quarterback is everyone's favorite player and the coach is to blame for all of the team's shortcomings.

Brown also gets it.

"This is my sixth year in Philadelphia. I have been fired every one of these years," Brown said. "It's Philadelphia. Every single one of these years, somebody has me not coming back. And it will happen again next year, early. So this is just the way it works in my industry, in this city."

Yeah, nailed it.

The guy just won 50 games in back-to-back seasons. That hasn't happened for this franchise since 1986. The Sixers advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the second straight season. That hasn't happened since 2001. That was also the last time they advanced to the conference finals.

Brown is likely not the next Gregg Popovich, but who the hell is? Which current NBA coach would you look at and say, "That team wins because they have a great coach?" Obviously the Bucks improved greatly after Mike Budenholzer took over, but he also has an actual freak on his team. Glenn Rivers also did a tremendous job with the Clippers this season, so that makes maybe … three?

But what are you looking for if you want to move on from Brown? Jay Wright? Wright has a pretty fantastic gig and has done a fantastic job at Villanova. Given the success rate of college coaches in the NBA, you expect Wright to lead a team to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season with no NBA experience?

You have to be realistic. Brown may or may not be the guy who's going to lead the Sixers to a championship, but you have to have a better option if you're ready to move on. Otherwise, you're just making a change for the sake of change.

And that's a dangerous proposition. Brown has been the only stabilizing force in this organization. The team is on its third GM – fourth if you include Brown's three-month stint – and has dealt with its fair share of turmoil and roster turnover. Brown has survived and built something that he can be proud of.

"How many programs in the NBA can feel like we have a chance at annual success?" Brown said. "It's still, as I look in the rearview mirror, the thing that San Antonio should get the most credit for. They don't go away. And so here we are with a 22-year-old All-Star and a 25-year-old All-Star, and people that want to be here. ... To me, it's like what are we missing? We have everything that we need to move this program forward. … We're proud of the fights that we've had to fight in order to do what we've done. Culture is a word that means something to me. It means something to us. And I believe that we've delivered."

Tuesday's press conference may have been the most impassioned and demonstrative we've seen Brown during his tenure with the Sixers. It's another reason he makes so much sense for this city. Nobody will ever question whether he cares. He's fought for his job and for his players.

Brown looked toward the window, motioning across the Delaware River at the city of Philadelphia from the team's state-of-the-art, 125,000-square-foot facility on several occasions. He's ingrained here and so is his culture.

"If you can sort of live by a principle, if you can help others, invariably you're probably going to help yourself," Brown said. "And that grossly abused word 'culture' has been achieved here. None of us could deny that. You can challenge it on different fronts, but in general, this is a hell of a destination. 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?"

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Sixers Talk podcast: The Sixers are bound to go on a run

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NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: The Sixers are bound to go on a run

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons' relationship, if the Sixers are going to go on a run, stability around the team and more on this edition of Sixers Talk.

• Are you encouraged by the way Jo and Ben acted toward each other during All-Star weekend? (2:00)

• The team's mettle will be tested with six of the next nine games on the road (5:45)

• Are the Sixers finally poised to go on a run? (7:43) 

• Eastern Conference betting odds (14:40)

• Is there enough stability and structure in the organization? (20:54)

• How troubling would it be if Jimmy Butler and the Heat go further than the Sixers? (31:47)

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Brett Brown is more interested in Joel Embiid's head than his hand

Brett Brown is more interested in Joel Embiid's head than his hand

CAMDEN, N.J. — In Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game, Joel Embiid did not appear bothered by his left hand. He sought out contact, didn’t seem to be in pain or discomfort, and posted 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also did not wear a splint on his left hand, as he'd done since returning from a torn ligament in his ring finger.

A team spokesperson said Wednesday that will remain the case with the Sixers, and that Embiid will now use buddy tape on his hand.

After Embiid shot 6 for 26 on Feb. 6 against the Bucks, head coach Brett Brown told reporters in Milwaukee he thought Embiid’s hand was affecting his shooting. 

Embiid had also said his hand was having an adverse impact.

“The Miami game, you’re kind of scared sometimes, you’re just trying to look for a foul or try to be physical,” he said. “Especially on the rebounds — I think that’s where it affects me the most. But, like I said, it’s not an excuse. I’ve gotta just figure it out and keep pushing.”

Still, Brown leaned toward the metaphorical after practice Wednesday when asked a broad question about Embiid’s health. 

I think the place that interests me the most, where I see his conditioning incrementally getting to an elite level, is his head. I think he is in a space that is excellent as it relates to his excitement, seeing this final third home — to grab the team by the throat and lead us in a bunch of different areas. ... I've been with him a long time, and when I look at him and I talk to him and I hear his words ... and we're always sort of, like you would with your children, judging their body language and all that. 

“I just think he's in a really good space. As it relates to the physical conditioning, we just went up and down hard for about 60 minutes — really up and down, up and down, up and down — saw no drop off. If you study the tape from the other night and you watch Joel Embiid run the floor and some of his rim runs … we all would be saying, 'Well, shoot, it can't get any better than that.' And so I think his fitness level is fine, and I think his headspace is even better. 

As for Embiid’s hand, Brown deferred judgement. After missing nine games with the injury, Embiid has played in eight contests, averaging 21 points and 10.4 rebounds. He’s shot 44.1 percent from the floor, 38.2 percent on three-point shots and 69.9 percent at the foul line.

“I believe I'll be able to tell more when when he gets double teamed at what I call the up block … and he's forced to pass more with his left hand, which used to be all bandaged up,” Brown said. “I used to get worried in that environment where people would come hard looking to whack it or double team him from that floor spot. I look forward to seeing him pass from that floor spot.

“It's easier on the other side, the down side, with his right hand, and I think that's where it will stand out probably the most for me, to see the difference of no wrap and the one that used to be wrapped.”

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