August 18, 2013

76ers' new coach is right man for team on rebound

Those who know Brett Brown say the once-proud Philadelphia team will again be in good hands.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Tony Hamlin couldn't help himself. He wanted the folks in Philadelphia to know just how special Brett Brown, the new 76ers coach, is.

Brett Brown
click image to enlarge

Brett Brown

click image to enlarge

Bob Brown

So after reading the story that appeared on the philly.com website of the Philadelphia Inquirer announcing Brown's hiring, Hamlin had to make this comment:

"I've known Brett for 30 years he is a winner in everything he does get ready Philly give him three years and you'll be in the hunt for conference title!!!!"

Maybe Hamlin, who recently retired as a high school basketball coach in Maine after 31 years, was a little over- enthusiastic because Brown is a Maine native, a South Portland High graduate and the son of one of the state's greatest basketball coaches, Bob Brown.

He doesn't think so.

"He's got the right personality," said Hamlin, who led Penquis Valley of Milo to the Class C state championship last winter. "He's a great communicator and his pedigree is such that Bob Brown knows more basketball than anyone I know and Bob has repeatedly told me he is dwarfed by what Brett knows.

"His basketball knowledge? It's off the charts."

And, Hamlin added, "He's going to outwork people. He's going to outwork anyone they've ever seen."

And he'll have to. Brett Brown, a 1979 South Portland High graduate, is now the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, a franchise that is clearly in a rebuilding mode. The 76ers were 34-48 last season and traded away their best player.

"I understand the landscape," said the 52-year-old Brown. "I'm the son of a coach. I've been around the game for my whole life. Coaching is coaching. You just have to understand this is a rebuild.

"There needs to be some tolerance, there needs to be some patience."'

Brown is the second Maine native to become an NBA head coach this year. Steve Clifford, who was born in Lincoln, grew up in Vermont and graduated from UMaine-Farmington, was hired by the Charlotte Bobcats earlier this offseason.

Brown calls himself lucky to be in this position. He never dreamed of becoming an NBA coach.

"I knew I wanted to coach," he said. "I knew I wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps. But the NBA? That never crossed my mind. I just wanted to coach basketball and do a good job."

Perhaps he was destined to become a head coach. He learned at the knee of his father, who is in the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. He played under Rick Pitino at Boston University where he started at point guard and was team MVP as a sophomore.

After a short stint as a salesman at AT&T in Boston, Brown packed up and went to Australia. "I didn't feel comfortable in that (corporate) environment," said Brown.

There he met Lindsay Gaze, the renowned Australian basketball coach, and learned more under him. He coached 14 years in the Australian National Basketball League. Then he joined the staff of the San Antonio Spurs, learning even more under Gregg Popovich. The Spurs won NBA championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Bob Brown, contacted by phone while fishing the Yellowstone River in Montana, said his son was one of the lucky few.

"He fell in love with something and he was in the right place at the right time with the right people," said Bob Brown.

When Brett was growing up, Bob said there was nothing to indicate basketball would be his career. "It was always about him having fun," said Bob Brown. "And he had fun doing just the mundane things, like spending time in the garage dribbling, or playing with his friends."

(Continued on page 2)

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