In the Sixers 100-85 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, their fate was once again decided by poor shooting and ineffective defense in the paint. Yet there was something incredible about Tuesday's defeat, Philadelphia's tenth in a row and 65 on the season, and it came in the form of an out of shape 37-year-old.
The team has been shorthanded with front court players since the beginning of March and Elton Brand has seen an increase in his playing time because of it. Against Charlotte, he played a season-high 19 minutes, pulling down a team-high nine rebounds while being the only Sixer to post a positive point differential at +5.
Brand could be literally anywhere in the world right now enjoying the perks of retirement, but instead he's playing legitimate minutes in meaningless games in a meaningless season and busting his ass doing it. He's fighting with all 290 lbs. of Al Jefferson for post position, diving into the stands for loose balls and knocking down mid-range jumpers almost as smoothly as he did a decade ago.
Philadelphia signed Brand back in the beginning of January to be the veteran leader that could teach the more youthful players on the roster how to conduct themselves as pro basketball players. While that was meant to come from more of an off-court standpoint, his play on the court is the definition of leading by example.
When people look back on the career of Brand down the line, nobody will really care about this final pit stop in Philadelphia amongst all his years of productive play. However, what he's done for this team over the past couple of months is a pretty incredible act of selflessness and it's worth commending him for it. The skill set may no longer be there after 17 years, but his passion for the game clearly still is.
The Sixers next game is on Friday, where they'll face off with the Hornets one last time.