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Brown, players see bright future

by Max Rappaport, Sixers.com
Posted: March 10, 2014

Since day one, head coach Brett Brown’s refrain has been the same: his first season with the Sixers is about developing young players, fostering a positive culture, and building the program from the ground up.

It’s a process, and it’s something that takes time. Just ask Brown’s mentor Gregg Popovich, who won just 17 games in his first season as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. That was nearly 20 years ago, and since then the Spurs have won four NBA Championships and 70% of their regular season games.

That, of course, is the dream. But it’s not just fantasy… It’s the end goal towards which everything the Sixers have done over the last year is directed. 

This season has been a roller coaster ride, but the stomach-churning twists, turns, and dips are all part of a track that Brett Brown believes can deliver his team to greatness down the line. 

In a season that has been trying, he sees the positives – individual development, league-leading offensive pace, and those occasional glimpses of what could be.

Last week, Brown and the Sixers invited Andrej Lemanis to sit in on several practices and attend a pair of games as a guest of the team. Lemanis is the current head coach of Australia’s Olympic men’s basketball team, a position he inherited from Brown following the 2012 Olympics in London. 

He, too, sees what Brown sees.

“It was the first thing [Andrej said] when we got in the car [after Saturday’s 104-92 home loss to Utah]. He was just blown away by the city coming out like they did given the season that we’ve had,” Brown said, recalling the atmosphere in the fourth quarter of that game. “You know, we came from 11 down, tied it up at 91, and you look around and can’t help but just be so impressed and proud of the crowd for being with us. 

“If we can ever flip the switch and get it right – and Allen Iverson’s retirement night confirmed it again… We hope we can deliver that back to the city.”

Brown, the son of a coach, has been around the sport of basketball for the better part of half a century. But the opportunity that exists isn't lost on his young players.

"A lot of fans came out and we thank them for that,” said 25-year-old Thaddeus Young, who Brown jokingly refers to as the “grandfather” of the Sixers, the NBA’s youngest team. “They have gone hard with us all season long. It has been a rough season, but they are still here and we thank them for that.

"I try not to think about [the losses]. I just go out there and continue to play and try to build and grow.”

The concept of building has been a central theme for the Sixers this season. But like all good things, building takes time. To erect a mighty skyscraper, a strong foundation is necessary. 

“We like to remind ourselves of those long-term goals as opposed to that short-term pain,” said Brown. “I think that we’ve all carried that message well – the coaching staff, the players… We all know this is a long process.”

It’s something the organization hasn’t shied away from. Rather, they’ve embraced it, right down to their slogan.

“Together We Build,” exclaimed second-year guard Tony Wroten when asked about the Sixers’ future. “We knew coming into this season what we were getting into, but we know the future is bright.”