The Philadelphia 76ers have ceased all rumors and speculation of the GM search by hiring Elton Brand. The move has evoked a spectrum of takes from fans. Regardless of your opinion of Brand, he’s not the most important basketball mind in the organization.
The Philadelphia 76ers threw us all a curveball by hiring Delaware Blue Coats GM and former Sixer Elton Brand to be the new general manager. Elton Brand has only been retired since 2016. The Sixers explored internal candidates, such as Alex Rucker and Ned Cohen. They also went outside the organization, interviewing Justin Zanik and Gersson Rosas more than once.
A “Woj Bomb” on Sept.18 put an end to the speculation, officially tabbing EB as the man in charge. Sixers fans are all across the board. Some love the move, some are indifferent, and others flat-out do not like it. Brand’s basketball acumen has yet to be validated, but let’s not forget the true voice of the franchise.
Brett Brown has been the singular constant of the Sixers since the new ownership in 2011. As fans and content consumers, we forget how drastically the Sixers have changed since then. The Doug Collins era was highlighted by a fortunate playoff upset, the travesty known as the Andrew Bynum trade, and ultimately ended listlessly. The franchise needed a jolt. A fresh start. They were mired in the middle, and thus the Process was born.
The Sixers hired two men to oversee and execute the most outwardly honest rebuild in perhaps the history of American professional sports. Brett Brown and Sam Hinkie were chosen to pilot a franchise, that was slipping into quicksand.
Sam Hinkie’s numbers-driven data was the backbone behind being intentionally bad, scooping up elite talent in the draft and keeping salary cap flexibility. He needed a coach to maintain his revolving door of fringe NBA talent, and multitude of draft picks. Brown was the last man interviewed, but he finished first.
A common criticism of Sam Hinkie was his lack of transparency. Many of the hollow, national narratives about Hinkie were misses, but Hinkie’s lack of availability left Brett Brown answering everything on the organization’s behalf. There were players barely old enough to drink legally getting cycled in and out, a high-profile street fight, and to top it all off a lot of losing.
Brett Brown represented the Sixers, when nobody else could.
He’s worked for the Process brain-trust, a family that initially planned on replacing him with Mike D’Antoni, and now he’s working under his former player. Brett Brown has found a way to improve himself and the organization under tenuous circumstances. When the times were tough, Brett Brown never wavered. His incredible leadership kept an organization from falling apart at the seams.
Don’t believe me?
Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves are an utter mess. Jimmy Butler wants out. Karl-Anthony Towns won’t commit to the team until Jimmy Butler is gone. Andrew Wiggins is being childish on Instagram. Stephen Jackson (!?!?) punked Wiggins on social media, and would probably knock him out given the chance. All of the drama accompanied by Thibs trying to recollect every member of the 2012 Bulls, makes the Timberwolves look like an MTV show. But hey, he’s a great defensive coach …
Mike Tomlin’s Steelers were, and possibly still are, Super Bowl contenders. His all-world running back doesn’t feel like showing up, and the best receiver in football doesn’t seem happy either. Their teammates are venting to the media and keeping closed-door issues very open. There seems to be no stability in Pittsburgh’s locker room.
Urban Meyer is one of the best football coaches on the planet, but he failed to address a domestic violence issue many times. An issue that didn’t directly affect his football team, wasn’t worth dealing with. He gravely damaged the reputation of himself and Ohio State, while failing to intervene to spousal abuse.
Brett Brown’s guidance kept the Sixers together during the constant stress and embarrassment. He’s been the ultimate steward and ambassador of the Sixers, when the rest of the sports media landscape was busy kicking them when they were down. It would have been so easy for him to fold and walk away, but he didn’t. The Sixers have a culture based off of hard work and character, which Brett Brown fostered.
The Sixers were without a general manager for the 2018 offseason. They had an entire front office with NBA and decision making experience. They could have chosen anyone to step in as the interim GM, but Brown was the obvious choice. He is revered and respected by people all over the league. His devout work ethic and positivity garnered that respect. When he talks, people listen.
The critics of Brett Brown often forget of his successes in San Antonio. He worked his way up from a menial basketball operations role, to player development, and eventually an assistant coach. He played a gigantic role in the development of a second round pick from Argentina, by the name of Manu Ginobili. His relationship and recruitment of Patty Mills led to his arrival in San Antonio.
Brett Brown was also around for the beginning stages and the paramount successes of a San Antonio franchise that’s in the midst of a 21-season playoff streak. The Spurs are approaching nearly a quarter-century of relevancy. Brett Brown has five rings, including an NBL championship in Australia. He knows what it takes for sustained success.
There may be better X’s and O’s guys in the NBA. There may be people with better resumes, but nobody could have done what Brett Brown has to this team. He’s been a consummate professional from day one, and he understands Philadelphia. There is no Process without Brett Brown. Coaching goes beyond basketball.
Elton Brand may be the new decision maker, but nobody has a more important voice than Brett Brown