If there was one major takeaway from the Philadelphia 76ers‘ 2018-19 exit interviews, which were held at the team’s practice facility in Camden on Monday, it’s that Brett Brown has the full support of his players.
Brown has been in his role with the Sixers since 2013, and after overseeing several seasons of roster reconstruction, he has led the franchise to consecutive 50-win seasons and Eastern Conference semifinal appearances. However, speculation regarding his job security has swirled throughout Philadelphia’s playoff push, fueled by noncommittal comments made by Sixers owner Josh Harris in April, as well as a that suggested that Brown needed to advance to at least the Eastern Conference finals in order to keep his job after general manager Elton Brand went all-in on an expensive, star-studded roster.
By bowing out in the second round again, Brown and the Sixers may have failed to meet the lofty expectations of team ownership, but, if it were up to the players that he coaches on a daily basis, Brown wouldn’t be going anywhere.
“I heard about all the rumors and stuff and I just thought it was bullshit,” Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid said. “He’s done a fantastic job. He’s been there through everything and this year I think he grew even more as a coach. He learned, we all learned. It’s hard when you’ve got five guys that can score the ball and do a lot of things on the basketball court, it’s hard to put it together.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to the players. I don’t think he should have anything to worry about. He’s an amazing coach, a better person, and obviously, I’ve got a lot of love for him. If there was someone to blame, put it all on me.”
Brown was tasked with keeping the ship straight through consistent turnover, as the organization made not one, but two blockbuster trades that completely reshaped the roster over the course of the season. Only a handful of the players that were at training camp with the Sixers in September were still with the team at exit interviews.
Incorporating all of those new personalities into the existing structure while keeping the team focused and united was a tall task, but Brown was able to handle it well — something that isn’t lost on his players.
“I think he realized how different of a human being that I am,” Jimmy Butler said of Brown. “How I can be difficult at times, but I swear it’s from the right place. I love to win. I work so hard and study my game and everybody else’s. I think he has a huge heart. He’s a great, great dude and he works incredibly hard. You’ve got to respect that about him. He’s always thinking of how he can make everybody great, which is hard to do when you have a roster like we have, had, but I think he’s going to be here for a long time.”
Butler only played for Brown for a matter of months, but veteran guard JJ Redick has been in Philadelphia for a couple of years now, and he has been equally impressed with what he’s seen from Brown. He even went as far as to call Brown’s work with the Sixers “remarkable.”
“It seems like it’s pretty obvious that I would say that I love Brett. I’ve loved playing for him, he has my full support, and I think what he has done for this organization is nothing short of remarkable,” Redick said. “I don’t feel it necessary to defend Brett to anyone, I think his work speaks for itself.”
Being liked by your players is far from the only aspect of coaching, but it is a big part of it, and Brown has it down. The Sixers could still opt to go in a different direction, but it’s clear that it wouldn’t be a very popular decision in the locker room.