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NBA practice: Philadelphia 76’ers

A couple of days ago, I was invited by headcoach Brett Brown to his practice with the Philadelphia 76’ers. Despite being announced as one of the weakest NBA teams this season, I have already witnessed two astonishing and unexpected victories against the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls.

The least you can say is that the staff and management have made some interesting choices in the offseason regarding the future of the franchise. Being the overall nr 1 prospect of the country, Noel Nerlens was the 6th pick since he had torn his ACL in February. Philadelphia acquired this player as part of a trade and it can be an excellent choice for a team that wants to build with a long term vision. And what to say about Michael Carter-Williams? Picked as nr° 11 by the Sixers, he was already selected as overall “Player of the week” in its first week of action in the NBA. This is the first time since a certain … Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. Analysts predict that the Rookie of the Year for this season is already known.

Despite their excellent start, it will probably still be a difficult season for the 76’ers. But I truly believe that they have the right man on the right spot with Coach Brett Brown.

For two reasons I respect Brett Brown and the Sixers franchise a lot:

1) Open vision towards international basketball

When I first met Coach Brett Brown he was really interested in the ICAB coaches program and FIBA certificate and invited me to their practice. Probably one of the reasons for his open vision is the international character of his career. He didn’t receive his spot for free as a former player, but had to earn the respect abroad. Brown used to coach in 1st division in Australia and was headcoach of the national team before joining the staff of Greg Popovic in San Antonio. Brett Brown brought Vance Walburg – inventor of the “Dribble Drive Motion Offense” – to the staff of the Sixers. The read-and-react principles of the offense can easily be recognized in the style of the 76’ers and makes Philadelphia one of the few teams with a lot of similarities with modern European basketball. Other exceptions are San Antonio (Ginobli, Parker, Diaw, De Colo and a fast up-tempo passing game) and Toronto (with Italian Maurizzio Gherardini for several years as General Manager).

2) Passion

Whenever Brett Brown is or the court on practice or on the sideline during a game, he clearly effuses passion for the game. He coaches and practices with a lot of energy and intensity and demands the same of his players. As a headcoach, he takes some  time after practice to improve the shooting form of one of the injured rookies. For many this will just be a small detail, for me it makes the difference between a coach who does his job and one who lives his passion.

Coach Brett Brown and me

Coach Brett Brown and me

Spencer Hawes with assistant coach Vance Walburg

Spencer Hawes with assistant coach Vance Walburg

Rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams (left)

Rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams (left)

After practice Coach Brown takes time to improve shooting form of injured rookie Noel Nerlens

After practice Coach Brown takes time to improve shooting form of injured rookie Noel Nerlens

Post practice interview with Coach Brown

Post practice interview with Coach Brown

The result of this interview can be found here.

Practice time

Practice time

Coach Brett Brown with assistant Greg Foster (former Utah Jazz player)

Coach Brett Brown with assistant Greg Foster (former Utah Jazz player)

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Recently I did a podcast with Chris Oliver of Basketball Immersion.