July 2, 2013

Maine native has NBA rings, wants to take reins

South Portland grad Brett Brown has been mentioned for two head coaching jobs, one of them Boston.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are the only teams in the NBA that are looking for a head coach.

Brett Brown
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Brett Brown has earned four NBA championship rings as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. He nearly won a fifth before Miami defeated the Spurs last month.

2010 AP file

Tony Parker, Brett Brown
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San Antonio Spurs’ guard Tony Parker, left, sits with assistant coach Brett Brown during the second half of an NBA basketball game on March 6 in San Antonio.

The Associated Press

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1979 – Led South Portland to 29-0 season and Class A state title

1981 – Named MVP of Boston University basketball team

1983 – Led Terriers to first NCAA tournament appearance since 1959

1987 – Backpacked around the South Pacific, met future wife, settled in Australia, found coaching job

1993 – Hired as head coach of the Melbourne Giants of the National Basketball League

1994 – Named Coach of the Year after leading Melbourne to NBL title

1996 – Assistant coach for Australia in Atlanta Olympics

1998 – Volunteer assistant with San Antonio Spurs

2000 – Assistant coach for Australia in Sydney Olympics

2002 – Rejoined Spurs as director of player development

2006 – Promoted to Spurs bench coach

2009 – Named head coach of Australian National Team

2012 – Coached Australia in London Olympics

The man who's being mentioned as a prime candidate for both jobs is a 1979 graduate of South Portland High School.

Brett Brown has years of head coaching experience in Australia and has earned four NBA championship rings as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. He came within 20 seconds of winning a fifth before Miami staged an improbable comeback in Game 6 of the finals last month and defeated the Spurs in a seven-game series.

Brown, 52, may not return for a 13th season as an assistant to San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich. Not if the Celtics or 76ers hire him.

Brown interviewed for the coaching job with the Denver Nuggets, who hired former Celtic Brian Shaw last week.

"He is as bright a young coach as I've seen come along in quite some time," said Rick Pitino, coach of reigning NCAA champion University of Louisville. "I hope it's the right situation, because he's a tremendous, tremendous person."

Pitino recruited Brown to play point guard at Boston University, where Brown was named MVP as a sophomore and then captain as a junior and a senior. He remains third on the school's all-time list for assist-to-turnover ratio (2.19) and is sixth in career assists (404) and ninth in steals (141).

"We just spoke (Sunday)," Pitino said by phone from Miami. "What I tried to tell him was the mistakes that I made. You have Doc Rivers leaving Boston not because he doesn't like Boston, but because he didn't think (the Celtics) were on a track to win a championship."

Pitino coached in the NBA with the Celtics and the New York Knicks. While at Boston University, he hired Bob Brown -- Brett's father and high school coach -- as an assistant before Brett's junior season.

Brett and Bob Brown politely declined to comment for this story. Last week, the New York Daily News reported that Philadelphia had decided on Brett Brown to replace Doug Collins as head coach. The story was refuted early Friday morning by 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie.

Brett Brown's five seasons as director of player development for San Antonio have spurred speculation that he would be ideal to guide Boston through a rebuilding process. Pitino said he cautioned Brown not to be "somebody else's sacrificial lamb."

"You don't want to put all your efforts into rebuilding, only to have someone else come in and reap the rewards of your hard work," Pitino said. "Coaching in the NBA is like sticking your head in a microwave oven. It's the National Impatient League. That's something he's got to understand, going in there."

Brown's path to the upper echelon of the NBA is a long one marked by a series of acclaimed mentors, starting with his father, a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame for his success in high school and college.

Brett Brown was a two-year all-state guard for South Portland High, which went unbeaten in his senior year with a squad that included Paul Gorham, Kenny Lynch, Paul McFarland, Paul Burnell, Mike Williams and David Cousins.

Gorham, who went on to become head football coach at Sacred Heart University before health problems intervened, remains a friend of Brown. Last month, he brought his daughter to Miami for a visit with Brown during the NBA finals.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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This 1983 photo was taken after Boston University defeated Holy Cross, 63-62, in the ECAC North title game to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1959.

Photo courtesy Boston University


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