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A Closer Look at Brett Brown

He's been publicized as some sort of player development guru, but the Spurs' assistant has many other qualifications.

Could the Boomers beat the 2013-14 Sixers? Probably not, but you have to think about it for at least a second.
Could the Boomers beat the 2013-14 Sixers? Probably not, but you have to think about it for at least a second.
Matt Roberts

As Justin wrote a couple of days ago, ESPN’s Marc Stein (or "Steiny Mo" to B.S. Report listeners) reported that the Sixers’ ongoing coaching search is likely down to a two-man race: San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown and Michael Curry, who is currently still under contract for another year with the Sixers.

While the secretive and lengthy nature of the search has been a hot topic locally, General Manager Sam Hinkie is staying the course. In an NBATV interview during a summer league game, he commented on the situation by saying, "I'm a pretty methodical guy, by nature. We're following a process."

According to Stein’s "coaching insiders," that process has whittled down a list of however many rumored candidates to two, Brown and Curry. Over the next few days, we’ll take a closer look at each of their pasts, and what they potentially offer the Sixers in a head coaching capacity. Today is the 52-year-old Brown’s turn.


Throughout the coverage of the coaching search, Brown’s player development background – specifically his time as Spurs’ director of player development from 2002 to 2006 – is primarily what he’s been associated with. As the Sixers are starting a full-blown rebuild, a person with that type of experience seems like a logical choice to shepherd Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams through their formative NBA years.

Still, don’t make the mistake of pigeonholing Brown as Tim Grover with a clipboard. His résumé is extremely well rounded.

After a successful collegiate playing career under then-Boston University head coach Rick Pitino, Brown served as a graduate assistant at his alma mater for future Pistons head coach John Kuester. Then, after a couple of years out of basketball, Brown went on a "backpacking adventure" through Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. The trip would turn his sights back towards the hardwood.

It was in Australia where Brown met his future wife and cut his teeth as a professional basketball coach. In the late 1980s, he landed an assistant coaching gig with the NBL's (National Basketball League) Melbourne Tigers. After working under legendary Australian coach Lindsay Gaze for a few years, Brown became the head coach of the North Melbourne Giants in 1993. In nine seasons leading the Giants and Sydney Kings, he won a total of 149 games. Brown's most successful year was 1994, when the Giants captured the league title and he won Coach of The Year.

The Spurs, for whom Brown worked in the basketball operations department during the title-winning 1998-99 campaign, hired him as director of player development in the summer of 2002. After five years in that role, Brown was elevated to assistant coach, a position he’s held ever since. In addition to his duties with the Spurs, Brown was head coach of the Australian men's national team from 2009-12, guiding the Patty Mills-led Boomers to the quarterfinals of the London Olympics.

So yes, while the Sixers would be getting someone with a player development background if Brown were hired, he brings a lot more to the table.

Listening to Brown talk, as you can while watching this video where he breaks down a defensive drill in-depth, his New England accent is pretty thick. A native of Maine, there’s no wonder why he was "extremely interested" in the Celtics head coaching job. When Brown pronounces the word "monster," he sounds like an extra in Good Will Hunting or The Town.

Of interest to those who pay particular attention to shot selection, the corner three-pointer is what Brown refers to as "a monstah" in that particular video. In it, he says, "The corner three in the NBA is the third highest percentage shot behind a free thrown and a layup. [It’s] a shot that we don’t give up."

While "corner three equals good" is common knowledge around the league, Brown pointing out the shot's benefits does a few things. First, it puts his Spurs (the shot's pioneers) pedigree on display, which can only help his prospects. Second, he shows a potential coaching match for Hinkie’s process-oriented thinking as to what makes a good shot.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find many details about Brown’s player development years. His arrival in San Antonio coincided with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili’s, and while it’s hard to say how much of a role Brown had in their development into All-Star players, he was at least along for the ride. At a minimum, Brown has seen successful player development first-hand.

Strictly looking at their current basketball situations, Brown probably has less to lose than Curry if he isn’t chosen to be the Sixers' next coach. According to a the San Antonio Express-News, Brown is in line to become Gregg Popovich’s lead assistant now that Mike Budenholzer is running things in Atlanta.

I have no idea if Brown will land the Sixers job, but one of Stein's tweets struck me as interesting.

In many ways, the candidates' willingness to lose for one year could be the deciding factor in who gets the job. If Brown isn't willing to follow Hinkie's blueprint, then the general manager most likely won't hire him.

Of course, Brown very well might be willing to tank. After all, he does currently work for the organization that landed Tim Duncan with the number one overall pick in 1997 and never looked back.

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