As I watched the 76ers navigate through the resignation of Bryan Colangelo, it made me think about how the players often get lost in translation.
I can remember not knowing what direction the Detroit Lions team I played on was going when head coach Bobby Ross resigned from the team midseason. As a player, losing your head coach when the team was still in the thick of things for the playoffs was weird, but interim head coach Gary Moeller — the team’s defensive coordinator — was a solid replacement.
Coach Ross knew it was time to go. He had lost the players. We didn’t trust his ability to lead us as a team and the relationship with the players was compromised. Lions owner William Clay Ford said, “Bobby Ross had nothing left to give.” As a player, trust with the coaching staff, the front office and the players themselves is paramount.
Players are huge on relationships, so they depend on coaches and upper management to navigate the direction of the team. Communication is vital and it defines the team’s culture. For example, Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson have created a team-first culture. No one is more important than the team. This allows the next-man-up mentality to flourish in the locker room because players believe that they all are important cogs in the total machine.
Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and Brett Brown — who will run the basketball ops on an interim basis — will now have to maintain this young Sixers team and get ready for free agency and the draft. Current players on the team are often the biggest sellers of potential free agents on the market. Joel Embiid has tried to influence probable free agent LeBron James for years. If players already on the Sixers’ roster don’t trust the front office, there is no way they would endorse the services of friends in the league.
The Sixers made a great move by making Brown the interim GM. This is a move that stabilizes the culture of the team. Now the philosophy he’s introduced will remain and Brown can be a liaison to the front office for the players. At this point, none of the players know what to think about what just happened with Colangelo.
I believe the young core that has been under Brown’s tutelage knows where the coach is coming from, but players on the outside will need more to be convinced to make Philadelphia their home in the near future. The Sixers' management will have to do some flattering and very good convincing to lure premier talent to the City of Brotherly Love.