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
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Brett Brown
click image to enlarge

Brett Brown

click image to enlarge

Bob Brown

Bob Brown said Brett didn't take an interest in basketball until probably the second or third grade, when Bob was the head coach at Rockland. "It just evolved from that," said Bob Brown. "I think he just fell in love with the game."

Hamlin could see that over the years, when he saw young Brett at basketball camps, or when he coached against South Portland.

Dana Colwill, the director of the Augusta Civic Center, saw it up-close as well.

He and Brett Brown lived a couple of streets apart when Bob Brown was an assistant coach at Cony High in Augusta. "Back in elementary school, we ran in some of the same circles, we had some of the same friends," said Colwill. "We did kid stuff, ride bikes in the neighborhood, go to playgrounds."

Then years later, they met on the basketball court. In 1978, when they were high school juniors, Colwill played for Cony and Brown for South Portland, in the Class A state championship game. Cony won, 84-63.

"It was obvious he was the team leader, the captain," said Colwill. "He was a very good athlete, but it was evident he was a better leader."

A year later, South Portland won the state championship, beating Presque Isle, 102-58. The Riots are the only team to ever score more than 100 points in a state title game.

Colwill finds it almost mind-boggling that Brown is now coaching in the NBA. "I was watching the announcement on TV the other night," he said. "And I said to my wife, 'I grew up with that guy, I played against him.' And now, here he is."

Brown started to think about being an NBA head coach back in 2012, after he coached Australia to a 3-2 record at the London Summer Olympics.

"It gave me a taste (of being a head coach) again," he said. "It made me refocus on what I wanted to do with my career. It was like I almost drew a line in the sand and said, 'This is my time.' "

After the Spurs lost in seven games to Miami in the NBA championship series, Brown's name surfaced whenever a coaching vacancy occurred. He interviewed with Denver, and was mentioned in Boston. Philadelphia caught his attention, but he took his time before accepting the position. He wanted a commitment from the 76ers that he would be there when the rebuilding was complete, otherwise he had no reason to leave one of the NBA's most stable franchises in San Antonio.

They gave it to him with a four-year contract.

"I think the 76ers did him well," said his father. "They're giving him an opportunity to succeed and that's what every coach wants."

Brett Brown also knows about Philadelphia's reputation and is looking forward to coaching there.

"It's a great city," he said. "It's a hard-nosed, sometimes ruthless city, but I love it."

Bob Brown likes it even more.

"You don't want to go to an apathetic city," he said. "Philadelphia is not that."

No it isn't. And Bob Brown figures he and his wife, Bonny, will get to know it a little better now.

"The train goes from Portland to Philadelphia," he said. "How good is that for a 75-year-old married couple? To get on a train to watch your son coach in the NBA. It doesn't get much better."

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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