In a Players’ Tribune article, Philadelphia 76ers point guard T.J. McConnell credited Brett Brown for the team’s culture.
The Philadelphia 76ers won 52 games last season, just two years removed from winning 10 games. Several factors contributed to their rapid ascension — Joel Embiid being chief among them — but the team’s culture stands out. Coach Brett Brown deserves a lot of credit.
Joining the team at rock bottom, Brown kept the locker room in tact during multiple losing seasons. While the Sixers were nightly underdogs, it was Brown who kept the team engaged. It was Brown who kept the team playing hard, night-in and night-out, despite the odds.
In a recent Players’ Tribune article, T.J. McConnell had nothing but praise for Brown. He now joins Embiid as the only Process Sixer on the roster, so he knows the work Brown put into the rebuild and the locker room.
“Bottom line: This is a group of guys who are extremely close. We genuinely like each other, and we ride for each other through thick and thin. And to me? That all starts with Coach.” — Players’ Tribune
McConnell touched on the Sixers’ monthly presentations, something unique Brown implemented over the years. Each month, one player gives a PowerPoint at the team breakfast, diving into a topic of personal interest.
It’s one of many things Brown has done to bring the group closer together. To turn teammates into friends and to make the Sixers one of basketball’s most enjoyable environments, both on and off the court.
Brown isn’t the only reason for the Sixers’ rock-solid culture, though. Embiid — the team’s on-court and emotional leader — also gets credit for embracing the city, the organization and his teammates.
This story from McConnell is all the evidence you need.
“I’ll tell you a quick story. It’s last season, and I’m out with a shoulder injury……. and I’m feeling pretty low about it. Just one of those things, you know? It sucks to not be helping the team. But on this particular night, Joel’s out too, with his eye. So I get a quick text from him, inviting me over to watch the game. It’s just classic Joel — he’s one of these guys who prides himself on being, like, a legit-legit friend. (Not as normal around the league as you might think.)
But then here’s what sets Joel apart even more. After that text? There’s a follow-up.
“Yo — bring your wife, too.”
We ended up having the greatest night.
And by “we ended up having the greatest night,” do I mean, “I had a nice, relaxing evening watching the game on Joel’s huge projector screen, while Joel and my lovely wife FOUGHT ALMOST TO THE DEATH over a board game??” Yeah, that’s what I mean.
I think the last words spoken before we left his apartment were Joel — with my wife standing there, just fuming — yelling out, “Nah, you lost. You lost fair and square. Fair AND square. Ask around. I’ve never lost. NEVAAAA.” — Players’ Tribune
The stars are an important part of culture-building. If the team’s primary piece doesn’t buy into the system, or he doesn’t buy into things off the court, it’s destined to end poorly. Embiid continues to hit all the right notes as Philadelphia’s core guy.
You can read McConnell’s full piece here. It’s a fascinating look at his mindset during the Process years, the team’s current aspirations, and everything in between. His main point, though: The Process is over.