Brett Brown: 'I see great things that can happen' for 76ers

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

PHILADELPHIA -- Brett Brown has lost about all there is to lose in 2 1/2 years coaching the76ers.

He's on the hook for the longest losing streak in major U.S. professional sports.

He has lost a rookie of the year, talented veterans and even a pair of shots at winning the No. 1 overall draft pick.

What Brown never lost, even during one of the worst eras of basketball in NBA history, was his faith that the franchise could become a winner on his watch.

Impressed by Brown's patience, leadership and resiliency, Philadelphia will give Brown more time to make that happen. With his original four-year deal set to expire after next season, the Sixers rewarded Brown on Friday with a multiyear contract extension.

"I see great things that can happen," Brown said. "I do believe, when you ask me if we'll be here in three years, if the program will be winning, yes I do."

Even with two extra years, there's plenty of work ahead on a massive rebuilding process. But he might also get extra help; the 76ers are talking to Mike D'Antoni about joining the staff as an associate head coach, Yahoo! Sports reported late Friday night.

Brown said he always wanted to stay in Philadelphia, even as the franchise was gutted in favor of D-League castoffs and 10-day contract players for a shot at building a winner through lottery draft picks.

"Why wouldn't I want to see this through," Brown said. "We have started something extremely difficult but is going to end up extremely special."

Brown has two losing streaks of at least 26 games on his rsum. He and the 76ers went 19-63 in 2013-14 and 18-64 last season, and they are 1-23 after a 107-95 loss to theDetroit Pistonson Friday night.

The front office has never wavered in its feeling that Brown is the right coach for a franchise that last won a championship in 1983.

"I hope this sends a message that we mean what we say," team president Sam Hinkie said. "Our ownership means what we say about trying to build something really special for the city of Philadelphia."

Brown was part of three NBA title teams with San Antonio as an assistant and won another with the Spurs when he served in the basketball operations department in 1998-99. He left after that season to become the head coach of the Sydney Kings of the Australian National Basketball League but rejoined the Spurs in 2002 as the team's assistant coach/director of player development and was moved to the bench as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in 2006.

Popovich said Friday he is "thrilled" for Brown.

"It's thrilling to see an ownership make a decision like that because they know the qualities of the individual and don't just look at the record," Popovich said. "They know what he's about. They know what he's worth. They know what he's made up of and what he's done and has contributed already. That doesn't happen very often. It's very, very rare. So they deserve a lot of credit for seeing that and acting on it. It's pretty spectacular."

Brown said he not only loves the franchise's future, he's hooked on the city.

"I love the city of Philadelphia. It's real," he said. "It's difficult, at times, going through what we all go through. I like raising my family here. I like my son, my little 11-year-old son, being on the streets of Philadelphia playing playground basketball, my kids going through the Lower Merion school district."

Brown also coached the Australian men's national team from 2009 to '12 and played a key role in helping Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker develop into All-Stars with the Spurs.

He opened the 2013-14 season with the 76ers 3-0 before the franchise collapsed. Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Evan Turner were traded midseason, and the Sixers would match an NBA record with a 26-game losing streak. Michael Carter-Williams was named rookie of the year and was promptly traded the next year.

The Sixers set the overall record for consecutive losses with 28: the final 10 of last season and the first 18 this season.

"You do get worn down," Brown said. "I mean, how can you not?"

Brown will have to take more lumps before the franchise can become a winner again. There's a hope that Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, injured center Joel Embiid and overseas prospect Dario Saric will blossom into All-Stars and at least one, maybe two, will become franchise-type players.

"He's been the foundation of us," Noel said. "He keeps us together, and he definitely deserved it. Brett's done so much for us. I think he's a great coach, and he's only going to make us better and better."

Saric and Embiid, both top-10 picks in 2014, have yet to play for the Sixers.

"I see daylight with draft picks and Saric and Joel Embiid," Brown said.

Based on how some other teams fare, the Sixers could have four first-round picks in the 2016 draft. They also have a state-of-the-art practice facility set to open next year in Camden, New Jersey.

"I think as time has unfolded, we've appreciated really how hard it is, but how exciting it is," Brown said.

The Sixers, who this week named Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo chairman of basketball operations, could start pursuing free agents this summer, and more veterans could be in the mix. Eventually, the clock will start ticking the expectation of a playoff berth.

"Our win-loss record doesn't reflect if we're doing our job or not," Brown said.

It will soon enough. And Brown will be on the bench to see the process through.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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