Spotlight | Brown's Efforts Rewarded With Extension

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Throughout his tenure in Philadelphia, Brett Brown has had the backing of 76ers ownership.

Now, on the heels of the 56-year old helping orchestrate the greatest season-to-season turnaround in franchise history, the club’s commitment to its passionate, Everyman’s head coach will be that much stronger.

Thursday, the Sixers announced a contract extension for Brown. The new deal lengthened his current pact through to the end of the 2021-2022 campaign.

The move comes just three weeks after one of the most memorable runs in recent Sixers history ended with a second-round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics.

At that point, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo indicated that re-working Brown’s pact was essentially a formality, a matter of time. The organization made good on Colangelo’s words, and swiftly.

“Brett has done a remarkable job in helping build a family-like culture centered around player development, work ethic and a commitment to long-term winning. We made incredible strides this past season with 52 wins and a playoff run,” said Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and 76ers Managing Partner Josh Harris. “With a dynamic young core and opportunities to further strengthen our team, the 76ers are well-positioned for the future and we’re thrilled to reach this agreement with Brett to continue as our head coach.”

The 52 wins marked the Sixers' highest total since 2000-2001, the year the squad went all the way to the Finals. Prior to this season, the team hadn't produced a winning record, or a playoff berth, since 2012.

“Brett’s commitment to player development and culture-building is exceptional. With this contract extension, we look forward to the 76ers’ continued growth under his leadership. He has helped develop some of the NBA’s brightest young stars, and we’re excited for what awaits as we continue to add to this talented roster,” said Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and 76ers Managing Partner David Blitzer.

In a statement released Thursday, Brown expressed gratitude for his assistant coaches, and players.

“It takes a village," Brown said, referring to the Sixers' newfound success. "I feel a tremendous responsibility to owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer to help grow and lead our program. They have treated my family and me with integrity and care. They are great owners to work for. The city of Philadelphia deserves a parade and this evolution is all that is on my mind. I am excited to partner with Bryan Colangelo and Scott O’Neil to continuously strive for this elusive goal.”

Based on last season, the Sixers appear to be headed in the right direction, with the numbers bearing out just how far Brown has brought the team.

The Sixers' net rating of 5.4 ranked fourth overall, while they placed third in defensive rating (102.0 points allowed per 100 possessions) and 10th in offensive rating (107.4 points scored per 100 possessions.

Perhaps most telling, the Sixers excelled in every area that Brown has made a primary point of emphasis since his hiring in August of 2013.

On the defensive front, in addition to their top-3 regular season finish, the Sixers were first in opponent field goal percentage (43.3%), and second in 3-point field goal percentage (34.2%).

In regards to pace, another key ingredient to Brown’s system, the Sixers were fourth in the NBA, generating 100.11 possessions per game.

They passed the ball at an elite level (no. 2 66.3 assist percentage), and spaced the floor effectively, with a 36.9 3-point shooting percentage. That figure was good enough to tie for eighth in the league. 

Looking for more evidence of the productive fruits of Brown’s labor? Let’s shift the discussion from the collective to individual level.

Within the last few weeks, a handful of Sixers surfaced prominently on the NBA’s annual year-end award lists. Joel Embiid was named All-NBA Second-Team, and a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year.

Ben Simmons was a unanimous selection for All-Rookie First-Team, and is bidding to become the third Sixer ever to win Rookie of the Year.

Robert Covington, originally an undrafted free agent, blossomed into an All-Defensive First-Team player this year.

Like Covington, countless Sixers have shown some degree of improvement under Brown. He and his staff have proven to be masters at developing players.

“The way coach utilized the talent...it started to really take shape that Brett has what it takes to coach this basketball team,” said Colangelo, who inherited Brown upon joining the Sixers in April of 2016. “I think everybody asked me when I first got here, are you going to give him the opportunity to coach, I said, ‘Absolutely.’ He deserves the opportunity to prove that he can coach better talent, but that he should have the opportunity to finish this job. I think he’s taken a big step forward.”

And representing a new wrinkle this season, Brown was able to show what he could do with a big ticket free agent in tow. JJ Redick decided to join the Sixers, in large part, because of Brown, and Brown integrated the sharpshooter perfectly.

“There’s something about his disposition, the way he’s coached this basketball team,” Redick said at his introductory press conference last July. “The spirit of the Sixers has never been broken, and I think that speaks volumes to Coach Brown. To be honest, he was probably the biggest factor in this decision. He’s someone I’ve watched and wanted to play for.”

For as intense and demanding as Brown can be, he’s also a player’s coach. His personality has always played well inside the locker room, and he consistently gets the most out of his charges.

Any questions about Brown’s ability to connect with members of the Sixers roster should be put to rest with a sampling of the messages players left for him during exit interviews earlier this month.

First, from Amir Johnson: “Brett, it was a wonderful year. Love how you handled yourself. You shaped this team to be great. We bought into what you were preaching.”

T.J. McConnell: “You’re a hell of a coach.”

Furkan Korkmaz: “I think he does a great job communicating with the players.”

Robert Covington: “I’ve been there with him, the rough times and everything. Just to be in this moment with him, it just shows the growth of what he believed in, and the vision that he had.”

More from Redick: I appreciate your coaching, who you are as a man, and who you are as a leader. I’m so grateful I got to spend the season with you.”

Joel Embiid: “I love you, Coach.”

Whether towards his players, the Sixers organization, or the city of Philadelphia, which the native New Englander has come to fully embrace, Brown has never hidden his feelings of affection, or appreciation.

“This will play out as it plays out, but I love being here,” Brown said when asked about his contract status at his end-of-season press conference. “We’ve grown something that I think that all of us, when you take a deep breath and look around, collectively as an organization I’m just so proud of where we are. I think my situation will unfold as it should.”

And sure enough, in short order, it has.

 

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