New Sixers coach Brett Brown — formerly lead assistant under the NBA’s best coach, Gregg Popovich — takes over a team engineered for the lottery by another new face in GM Sam Hinkie. But that’s not how Brown sees it, and he made a stunning comparison between his current and former team while addressing the media on Wednesday.
After Hinkie traded the Sixers only All-Star last season, Jrue Holiday, in exchange for the pick that turned into Nerlens Noel, it became apparent to everyone in Philadelphia their basketball team was in the process of extricating itself from the Andrew Bynum fiasco under the tenure of former coach Doug Collins. It was a blatant, and daring, attempt by Hinkie to get back to a tabula rasa by next summer. Any time a team attempts to wipe the slate clean, it usually means a ton of losing in the near future.
But during a gathering with reporters yesterday, Brett Brown compared the nucleus of his young Sixers roster to some old guys on the Spurs. He said that Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner reminded him of, ahem, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Yeah, you read that right. Just so there’s no confusion, we’ll give you the whole quote so there’s no contextual discrepancy.
Via the venerable Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News, here’s what Brown had to say (emphasis, very much ours):
“The team has been in the gym since Sept. 9, led by Spencer, Thaddeus and Evan. I’m proud of what they’ve done so far. They are enjoyable to talk to and I have empowered them. I look at them the way we used to look at Timmy [Duncan], Tony [Parker] and Manu [Ginobili]. When I go into a room and I see veteran players and especially because they’re healthy, I’ll look at them and put my arms around them because I want their opinion on a lot of different things. They know the lay of the land. They deserve to be heard. I think their leadership is something we want to cultivate and help them with. I’ve found those three to be good people and curious about the way we’re going to take the program. I look forward to coaching them. I think they know that we are sincere in trying to help them get better.”
We suppose the leadership qualities Hawes, Turner and Young have exhibited to their new coach are laudable, but it’s a stretch to think they’re in any way comparable to the dynastic Spurs triumvirate. Tony Parker just won a FIBA EuroBasket with France this summer, and both he and have three championship rings. Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward in NBA history and has four rings of his own.
What do the three Sixers mentioned have? Brett Brown’s respect, we suppose. But before you guffaw like we did when we saw his quote, remember that Brown was the Spurs’ director of player personnel starting in 2002. He didn’t join the Spurs’ bench as an assistant under Popovich until just before the 2007-08 season. Brown, technically speaking, was never a coach on the bench for any of the Spurs’ four titles since Duncan came aboard.
But if there’s anyone who is allowed to make such outlandish analogies, it’s Brown. He knows the Spurs, and he’s getting to know the Sixers. By year’s end, we’re guessing he’ll choose his comparisons a little more wisely.
What do you think of Brown’s comparison
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