It's a pretty straight shot to Philadelphia from Newark, Delaware, but not a particularly smooth one. Rush hour traffic can be a nightmare, and the potholes on I-95 North near the airport will swallow anything smaller than a Toyota Prius.
In a perfect world - or, at least in the world according to Google Maps - the drive from the Philadelphia 76ers' practice facility to the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center (home of the Delaware 87ers) should take about an hour or so. Free agent point guard Lorenzo Brown can probably shave a few minutes off of that time, however: He knows that route like the back of his hand.
AN ABBREVIATED LIST OF THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS' 2013-14 TRANSACTIONS
November 20: Signed free agent Lorenzo Brown
December 26: Assigned Lorenzo Brown to the D-League
January 6: Recalled Lorenzo Brown from the D-League
January 9: Assigned Lorenzo Brown to the D-League
January 10: Recalled Lorenzo Brown from the D-League
January 14: Assigned Lorenzo Brown to the D-League
January 15: Recalled Lorenzo Brown from the D-League
January 27: Assigned Lorenzo Brown to the D-League
January 27: Recalled Lorenzo Brown from the D-League
January 28: Assigned Lorenzo Brown to the D-League
February 3: Recalled Lorenzo Brown from the D-League
February 4: Assigned Lorenzo Brown to the D-League
February 5: Recalled Lorenzo Brown from the D-League
March 14: Waived Lorenzo Brown
It was a novelty at first. There's no restriction on the number of times that an NBA team can send a first-year player down to the D-League, and the Philadelphia 76ers took every opportunity to assign Brown to the Sevens when the schedule and logic dictated that they do so.
It made all of the sense in the world: Brown was firmly planted behind both Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten on the Sixers' depth chart, and only saw significant minutes when one of the two was out with an injury. It was the perfect use of the 76ers' fledgling D-League team... and also perfect fodder for a host of commenters on Twitter.
Does Lorenzo Brown have to drive himself back and forth from the Sevens to the Sixers or does someone do it for him?— Spike Eskin (@SpikeEskin) January 27, 2014
Lorenzo Brown is in for the #Sixers. He'll probably get sent down to the @Sevens before the start of the fourth quarter.— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) January 23, 2014
His D-League shot chart may resemble the aftermath of "The Red Wedding", but Brown played fairly well in his 12 games for the Sevens (19.9 PPG, 6.9 APG, 5.3 RPG). On the season, Brown shot 46.8 percent from the floor and 42.8 percent from beyond the arc - solid figures for a player who rarely spent enough time in Delaware to learn his teammates' names.
"His mindset for it has always been good," said 87ers' head coach Rod Baker in an interview with N.C. State fan site PackInsider. "He is a basketball player, and he wants to play. And this is an opportunity for him to play and work on his craft."
On January 27, Brown had plenty of opportunities to work on his craft: An 11:30 AM game versus the Austin Toros (because... D-League) was followed by a nightcap at the Wells Fargo Center against the Phoenix Suns. The former N.C. State star logged a grand total of five seconds in the NBA portion of the twin bill, and hours later, he was unceremoniously sent back down to the 87ers where he played his third game in a span of 36 hours.
"AAU all the way," said Brown when asked about his one-man doubleheader in an interview with Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's crazy."
As a 23-year-old professional basketball player with a college career of some consequence, Brown could have easily grown weary of the constant shuffling - or, more appropriately, shuttling - between the Sixers and the Sevens. That never appeared to be the case: If Brown was annoyed by the constant trips up and down the interstate, then he has a hell of a poker face.
"He goes up and down all the time," said 76ers' head coach Brett Brown when asked about his E-ZPass toting point guard back in early February. "He moves all the time. He doesn't complain once."
It's probably best that Lorenzo Brown is better known as "the guy who put excess miles on the company car" than "the player the Sixers decided to keep instead of signing Kendall Marshall." Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, but Brown hadn't exactly lit the world on fire by the time Marshall arrived in Delaware in early December.
Hinkie and Co. may have made a misstep in sticking with Brown, but it's a forgiveable transgression. If nothing else, the Sixers gave a young player an extended chance at his ultimate dream. The road to becoming a full-time NBA player is long, grueling and tedious, and Lorenzo Brown put in more than his fair share of miles this season.