Brown and Iverson during the Sixers’ last period of success.
By Theodore N. Beitchman
No one alive — with the possible exception of Tony Kornheiser, who has known Larry Brown for almost 60 years — has greater admiration for the man who led the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 2001 than I do.
The “Wandering Jew,” as he described himself to me in 1979, has won NBA titles (in Detroit) and NCAA titles (in Kansas) and at the age of 73 he is doing a remarkable job at SMU.
He has had more basketball coaching jobs than anyone in history, owing, some would say, to his wanderlust or his ADD.
But now Brown is pissing on the Sixers from a great height, telling the world that what Josh Harris and Sam Hinkie are doing — tearing down and rebuilding with fresh, new talent — is anathema to him because they have to tank to do it.
Well, what would you expect from a man who reveres Ed Snider, who in his 16 years as Sixers owner maintained a level of mediocrity and would not do what Harris and Hinkie are doing.
This great businessman refused to invest in losing to get much better, even though that’s what the NBA system requires.
Here are Brown’s thoughts:
“I hate what’s going on in Philly,” the Hall of Fame coach said Wednesday. “They don’t have a basketball person in the organization. It makes me sick to my stomach.”
“No, I wouldn’t do it. We wouldn’t lose. Brett can coach, he’s one of Pop’s guys,” Brown said, referring to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. “But what they are doing to that city to me is mind-boggling. That’s the greatest basketball city in the world with its fans and you want them to sit back and watch you lose.
“Can you imagine telling Allen Iverson that this is a rebuilding season so we’re going to be bad on purpose?” Brown continued. “I love [Nerlens] Noel, I love Joel [Embiid]. But you can’t put that stuff into them. Again, it boggles my mind. I understand you have to get assets to get better. You get assets by developing young players, draft picks, and moving contracts. But how much teaching is going on?”
Brown, 74, also was critical of the team’s plans to build a new practice arena in Camden.
“Nothing against Camden, but it’s Philly’s team,” Brown said.
“These analytics, they don’t mean squat to me,” Brown said. “Throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. To say that these analytics guys have the answer is crazy. It doesn’t apply to basketball. Everybody uses the data you get, but that’s what coaching is. Maybe it will work, I don’t know. But it’s a shame what those fans are going through waiting to see if it will.”