“This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this.”
The above quote, taken from the movie “300,” could just as easily describe the rebuilding project that lies ahead of Brett Brown as the new Sixers head coach.
Transitioning from the San Antonio Spurs, one of the most successful NBA franchises over the past 15 years, to a team that’s projected to rack up 60 losses in 2013-14 could come as a huge culture shock.
Brown isn’t shying away from that.
In his introductory press conference yesterday, he quickly addressed the harsh reality of rebuilding.
“We all know that the pain of rebuilding is real,” the coach said during his opening statement. “We all will experience it. It isn’t something that happens quickly. … There needs to be a tolerance, there needs to be a patience.”
While a flood of losses appears inevitable at this point, this next season won’t necessarily be lost time. Instead, Brown sees it as an “educated science project,” where he’ll “try some different things and look at different things and give young players a chance, so that we can have a shot at polishing up something that really could be a talent.”
In other words: The days of Doug Collins leaving rookies to languish on the bench are a thing of the past.
Upon coming to Philadelphia, Brown’s first order of business was going to the strength and conditioning coach and ensuring that the team puts “a huge premium on our health and fitness.”
“We need to establish that part of the program,” he said. “We need to implement a system of defense and we need to implement a system of offense.”
From there? It’s just a matter of “keeping the locker room together and keeping our eye on the prize,” results be damned.
Brown repeatedly stressed the importance of the “process” throughout the presser. Championship contenders don’t just emerge overnight (with the exception of the Miami Heat).
“I think that you have to just stay focused on what you’re really here for,” he said. “Make sure that your defense is sound. Make sure that you retain your fitness base. Make sure the pace is what we want to play with.”
We also gained some valuable insight yesterday into Hinkie’s line of thought about the rebuild.
“At the end of the day, I didn’t want to mark time,” he said. “I didn’t to mark time while we just waited for some future to get here.”
So, what makes Brown the right coach for the Sixers?
Hinkie raved about the coach’s “positive energy,” calling it “infectious.” He also sang the praises of Brown’s experience in player development, saying “there are many coaches that have that; there are few that have the passion for it that he does.”
For a team like the 2013-14 Sixers, which is chock full of young, unharnessed talent, internal player development will make or break the season. It’s easier to digest 60+ losses if potential building blocks like Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams make clear progress from November through April.
Brown’s “diverse” basketball background additionally piqued Hinkie’s interest during the coaching search.
“Basketball is played all over the world, with all sorts of innovation and with all sorts of changes to the game,” Hinkie said. “He has seen that, at many different levels. I love that part about the way that shaped him and the way that shapes his way of thinking and the way we hope he’ll help shape us going forward.”
Let the “educated science project” begin.