Sixers fans, and the basketball world at large, knew Brett Brown wasn’t going to survive a first-round exit this year. And plenty feel like it was time for the team to move on from their now-former head coach.
But that doesn’t mean the move didn’t sting, at least a little.
Brown was, if not a brilliant coach, an affable guy who seemed to have the respect and love of his players and his peers, a thoughtful man who just couldn’t get the on-court things right.
And while Brown caught some stray disparaging remarks on his way out, one former player wanted to make sure his feelings on Brown’s tenure with the 76ers were clear.
In the latest episode of his own podcast, former Sixers sharpshooter JJ Redick opened the show by going to bat for Brown – and also former Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, who was fired earlier this month.
Here’s what Redick and co-host Tommy Alter had to say about Brown (and Gentry):
Redick: I just want to say one thing, specifically. Played for Brett for two years, played for Alvin this year, played for Alvin my first year in L.A., when he was an assistant coach with Doc Rivers, and I’ve got to say, both of them are two of the greatest humans I’ve been around in the NBA. Two of the greatest people, just incredible class acts, both of them. I feel very fortunate to have played for both of them.
Specifically with Brett, a seven-year run in Philly is crazy, given where –
Alter: Especially in Philly, of all cities.
Redick: – [Laughs] Yeah. And especially given where that process started seven years ago. It speaks a little bit to the type of person he is, his acumen as a coach. I can’t imagine, as a coach, going into that situation, knowing what the intention was – trying to, essentially, get high draft picks.
Alter: It’s very rare where, in one coaching tenure, you go from literally the bottom of the league to Finals or bust expectations. And your team, both years you were there but especially last year’s team, it was a disappointment when you didn’t make the Finals.
It’s noteworthy, and probably nice for Brown, to hear Redick talk about Brown’s “coaching acumen” during that discussion.
Because a big talking point for a lot of people in the wake of Brown’s firing has been that, while he’s a great guy, Brown might not be a head coaching-level talent when it comes to the Xs and Os part of basketball.
Do I think he’s some sort of strategic luminary? No, he certainly had his pitfalls. His ATOs often left plenty to be desired, his teams regularly struggled with press defense, and his offensive sets this year were particularly uninspired.
But Brown was also at the helm of the best offense in the NBA during the 2018-19 season, when the team was constructed with an eye towards the modern NBA and not some 2005-era “bully ball” relic like this year’s awkward roster.
I’d be surprised if Brown isn’t an assistant in the league next year, and I could absolutely see him working his way back into another head coaching job in the future. Seven years in Philadelphia – particularly these past seven bizarre, surreal years – is quite an accomplishment in its own right.
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