Brett Brown

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Spike Eskin: Brett Brown, coach of the last half-decade

Spike Eskin
April 12, 2018 - 11:37 am

NBA coaches do not survive The Process.

The professional basketball graveyard is packed with the tombstones of coaches, who had to pay the price for a rebuilding franchise. Just today, Frank Vogel and Jeff Hornacek, who are at least adequate coaches, lost their jobs because their teams failed due to poor roster construction or a lack of talent, or both. 

But nearly five years after Sam Hinkie and the Sixers decided that Brett Brown was the guy to take the reins of the rebuild, he stands as the coach of a team who has the longest winning streak (16) heading into the playoffs in NBA history. 52 wins in total for a team who won 28 last year, and 10 the year before.

Somehow, Brown is still not getting the credit he deserves.

Brown is the obvious Coach of the Year in the NBA, though he likely will not win the award. Perhaps, the victim of a league who wants to make pretend The Process didn’t work. Dwayne Casey, Brad Stevens, Terry Stotts and Quinn Snyder have all done admirable jobs, but we’ve seen that before. What Brown has done has no real precedent.

But Brown is actually more than the Coach of the Year – he’s the coach of the last half decade. The job that Brown has done, and continues to do, is one of the most impressive feats of leadership in sports history. 

Keeping a locker room together, relatively free of drama, for a team that won 19, 18 and 10 games in consecutive seasons, is an almost impossible task. Brown pulled it off, and is beloved by just about every player who has worn a Sixers jersey since 2013 (and there have been a lot of them). After all that losing and handwringing over the team’s "losing culture," no one is winning or having more fun than Brown’s Sixers.

He has been the defacto spokesman for the team through injuries, trades, losing streaks, and whatever it was that happened with Jahlil Okafor. When no one else from the organization was willing to take the heat (this is still the case, minus Hinkie if you can believe it), Brown did.

When Brown got here, his calling card was player development, and we’ve seen plenty of that. Robert Covington, Dario Saric, TJ McConnell, along with countless players who now have jobs on other NBA teams have all come such a long way.

While everyone liked Brown, the question, even when complimenting the job he was doing, was, “Can Brett Brown be the coach, who not only keeps them together and develops them, but coaches them to wins?

People have long been unwilling to give him is due. My go-to joke was always, "It seems the Sixers have 44 wins and Brett Brown has 30 losses.”

The coach, with an Australian and New England hybrid accent that would be annoying if it wasn’t glued to someone so heartfelt and charming, has answered those questions pretty resoundingly. 52 wins and the third seed in the Eastern Conference is so far ahead of what anyone rightly expected this year, that the job which Brown has done is being overlooked because of the unbelievability of it all.

After five years, this seems like the start of a new job for Brown, with new expectations and responsibilities – a job I’m sure he’s more than excited to take-on. If this year is any indication, he’s going to do great.