By: Greg Levinsky
It’s not hard to understand why Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Brett Brown appears so comfortable in the TD Garden. Growing up in South Portland, Maine with the Celtics as his home team, Brown traveled annually to Boston to catch a game
“Every time I’ve come here, I drove down 95 as a seven-year-old, a six-year-old, a ten-year-old, a 13-year-old, I did it almost every single year,” Brown said, “[There’s] a history personally that I have in this city, especially following the Celtics.”
But, his connection with the city is rooted much deeper. The affable Brown graduated from Boston University in 1983, suiting up in 113 games for the scarlet and white. Under the now infamous Rick Pitino, Brown served as a captain in his junior and senior years, helping guide the Terriers to the 1983 NCAA Tournament, the second of such appearances in school history.
Terriers are few and far between on the highest level of the hardwood; just four Boston University graduates have traversed the NBA ranks, while Brown is the only coach in the league who graduated from BU.
Cleveland’s John Holland is the program’s lone representative in today’s NBA. Fittingly enough, Holland scored his first three career points on Monday night against Brown’s squad. Holland said he has yet to actually talk to Brown, but has heard only good things.
“Never really got to meet him,” Holland said. “Didn’t even have a chance during the game. I wanted to, but I couldn’t get to him.
“I also hear that he has a great basketball mind.”
Brown admitted he doesn’t keep up with former BU players much, but appreciates them when they cross paths.
“I wish BU guys well,” Brown said. “I always follow [BU] from afar, I think my days are from a long, long time ago but I’m always paying attention.”
For the first time in his NBA head coaching career, Brown arrived in Boston with a winning record. Visiting the Celtics with at 11-8, the 76ers are in the midst of cashing in on their “Trusting the Process” gamble, as so well monikered by center Joel Embiid. Enduring a 75-253 record over Brown’s first four seasons, the 76ers are reaping the benefits of hoarding high draft picks and stockpiling young talent.
This year’s rookie phenom, Ben Simmons is proving to exceed all the lofty expectations that come after being drafted first overall. He, like Embiid sat out his first year due to injury. Clearly it worked out for both.
Rookie Markelle Fultz, this past year’s number one selection has played in just four games, last appearing in a 97-87 victory over Detroit on October 23. Maybe sitting out the rest of this year could help him too.
“We’ve gone through this five times, and I hope we’ve learned from it and are better,” Brown said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s about engagement, finding ways that they feel like they’re getting better.”
Brown acknowledged it is special to play in Boston, but his focus is on his Philadelphia 76ers.
“You come into this part of this world, you come into this building and you’re excited to be here,” Brown said. “You’re also mindful that we’re trying to grow our own program.”
Listen to the full talk below: