Newly hired Sixers coach Brett Brown gave quite an introduction to himself yesterday at the Wells Fargo Center. Only a handful of media members were able to get down to the WFC in the short-notice the team gave them for the special occasion (something the Sixers are becoming notorious for doing now), but Brown gave fans and media alike what they’ve been waiting for this summer.
With long-winded responses and a thick Boston accent, Brown for the first time this offseason hinted at Hinkie’s plan and what it’s going to take the Sixers to climb the mountaintop for an NBA title.
He talked rebuilding, he talked development, he talked patience, he talked fitness and growth. He’s letting fans know now that they’re in for a bumpy ride, but one that has the shot at great results.
As he put it at one point in the presser, “Can you imagine if we can get this thing right? Really. If we can get this right with the culture and the history that this city has and the pride and the toughness that this city has, that is very luring. It’s tempting and there were times that I wasn’t sure, based on what I had, if I wanted to chance it and I think this is a very high, calculated chance.”
Notice how Brown didn’t use the word risk, but chance. Risk is a word that assumes danger and failure, chance is a word that assumes possibility and, in Brown’s belief, very high possibility.
In Brown’s position, you have to believe. He sees the skill of Thaddeus Young, the potential in Evan Turner, the “versatility” of Spencer Hawes and the endless possibilities for Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams. He understands that it’s going to take probably three years before the Sixers can do some damage as a team. He even said during the presser that he wouldn’t have accepted the offer as coach, unless it was the four years he was allotted to instill his systems and beliefs into his players. He wants to be the guy to turn things around.
There’s a lot to like about Brown, I can only hope for him that it will all work out.
He’ll have to get his players to listen to him, even when times are tough. He’ll have his work cut out for him in developing Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams into not only physically NBA athletes, but mentally as well. He’ll have to understand that names like Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes might not be around too much longer, with Sam Hinkie as your GM and each of them on expiring contracts. He’ll have to understand that the fans of the team he’s coaching have grown tired of the organization and it’s going to take a lot of trust-building to bring them back in.
It’s a lot for a first time head coach to deal with. It’s a happy marriage now, but as the losses start to mount and emotions start to run high that’s when Brown’s really going to have to ask if he still wants it. What if the “chance” that Brown sees right now starts becoming more and more risky?
He wants the Sixers to be a team that gets out on the run, limits turnovers and stresses defense. No offense to Brown, but doesn’t that sound like a coach who just manned the throne back in April? I’m not saying that Brown is similar to Doug Collins at all, but what I am saying is that it’s hard as an older coach (especially for a young team) to connect with your players and get them to listen. If Collins wasn’t able to connect with this team in a similar situation, what makes people so positive that Brown will?
One of the strongest parts of the press conference in my eyes was towards the end. Brown talked of the success that the San Antonio Spurs had during his time as an assistant. He then compared that level of success to where the Sixers are now.
“It is such a long ways away, in my eyes (an NBA title),” Brown said. “There is so much work that has to be done in order to even think about that. It’s fair to dream, it’s fair to think about it, but geez, there’s so much work and so much luck that we’re all going to have to have to get to that level. It’s a great place to think and aspire to get to, but it’s a long road.”
That about sums up the current state of the Sixers. There’s so much time, so much work and so much luck that must enter the equation for the Sixers to contend again. I like Brett Brown and want him to succeed, but the task at hand could be too large to overcome.