On the Beat: Brown Sees Message in ESPN, TNT Games
PHILADELPHIA - The 76ers believe they’ll be an improved group this season. So too, apparently, do the NBA’s broadcast partners.
Last week’s announcement of the Sixers’ forthcoming 82-game, 2016-2017 slate brought with it the news that the club will be making three appearances on national television.
ESPN elected to pick up the Sixers’ October 26th opening night pairing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, plus their December 16th home date versus the Los Angeles Lakers. TNT, meanwhile, will carry the November 17th road game against Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Not since the spring of 2013, four months prior to Brett Brown’s hiring, have the Sixers played on ESPN or TNT.
“It’s really I think a statement to the way the public views our young, exciting team,” Brown said last week in an interview on The BroadCast, the official podcast of Sixers.com.
The excitement that Brown referenced stems, in large part, from the infusion of talent set to hit the Sixers’ roster. This off-season, the organization chose Ben Simmons with the number one pick in the draft, and witnessed Joel Embiid make further strides towards his professional debut. The Sixers will also be bringing Dario Saric into the fold this fall, thanks to the 22-year old Croatian Olympian signing his rookie contract in July.
Marking a change in approach from previous summers, the Sixers signed several battle-tested free agents, bringing in veteran guards Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless, and Sergio Rodriguez.
“There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Joel Embiid, interest and anticipation in the arrival of Ben and Dario,” said Brown. “There’s a real fascination of how we’re going to pull this thing together.”
Discussing the Sixers’ schedule the day after it was released, Brown explained that he oftentimes first checks to see whether his team will be busy during major family holidays, likes Thanksgiving and Christmas. He and the Sixers’ staff also highlight the number of back-to-back games the squad is assigned. This season, there are 17 such instances.
“The challenges are exciting,” Brown said of the season ahead. He added that, as has been the case in years past, he intends to divide the Sixers’ campaign into three parts -- opening night to Christmas, Christmas to the All-Star break, and from the All-Star break to the end of the regular season.
“It allows me to manage sometimes losing, sometimes redefinement or definement of goals and expectations.”
When it comes to favorite cities along the NBA’s annual circuit, the well-traveled Brown, a former resident of Australia, admitted he has a few. There’s Boston, where he played collegiately, and few hours from his native South Portland, Maine. He also enjoys two other particular major metropolitan destinations, New York and Chicago. Salt Lake City and Denver can’t be left off Brown’s list, due to the mountainous terrain that surrounds both regions.
From the 12 seasons Brown spent as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs, several Western Conference stops stir sentimental feelings as well.
“No matter how you slice it up, there are great memories all over the place.”
Most of all, when looking forward to the season ahead, Brown sounded appreciative that Sixers fans, especially those in the Delaware Valley, will have multiple chances to see and experience the franchise being showcased on a national stage.
“I think that the city deserves it,” said Brown, referring to the ESPN telecasts that will originate from Philadelphia. “It’s been so incredibly patient, and in some ways tolerant, to the pain that we’ve gone through.”
The Sixers will have two additional contests simulcast on NBA TV -- their November 7th home meeting with Utah, and a November 14th visit to Houston.