CAMDEN, N.J. — First a surprise visit from Charles Barkley at Brett Brown’s house, then a spirited ping pong tournament in the city.
The Sixers held another training camp team-building event Thursday night at Spin Philadelphia. Players and staff took part in a field-of-64 competition in which Jerryd Bayless topped Brett Brown for the title.
"Any time somebody brings their own ping pong paddle, you know you're in trouble,” Brown said at practice Friday.
Bayless delivered his A-game. He credited his skills to playing in matches at Boys and Girls Clubs growing up. The veteran guard wasn’t that concerned about his competition, anyway.
“It’s not that hard,” Bayless said of beating Brown.
When asked about knocking out his teammates en route to the finals, he laughed, “Yeah, they’re not that good either.”
Bayless ultimately met his match when he faced off against a 14-time ping-pong champion from Sweden.
“Any pros, they can beat me,” he said. “But if you’re not a pro, you’re probably not going to beat me.”
Brown took his loss in stride. Not surprisingly, he used a basketball reference to accept the defeat.
“I said to Ben (Simmons) and Markelle (Fultz), ‘If Washington and LSU could’ve got to the finals of the NCAA Tournament and you would’ve just got crushed, you would’ve been embarrassed on national TV vs. not making it, which one would you choose?’” Brown said. “They said, I’d rather go to the Finals and be crushed.
“I said, ‘Well, that’s what happened to me. I was crushed in front of the team.’”
That’s not to say Brown’s appearance in the title round should be discounted. He beat strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Simmons along the way.
“Coach Brown beat me, I’ll give him that,” Simmons said. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to be quite the player, but I was a little rusty.”
Brown has incorporated non-basketball activities throughout training camp. Earlier in the week, the team got together at his house where the Sixers arranged for Barkley to speak with the players.
“Everybody had a really good time,” Bayless said of ping pong. “We’ve had four really good days here. Trying to get away from this for a night and then pick it back up today I think was a good idea. It was really a lot of fun.”
(Photos courtesy of the Sixers)