Brett Brown spoke to media today via a Zoom call that included more than 50 people.
He described this interaction as “therapeutic,” which is the first time anybody has used that term to characterize a conversation with Philadelphia sports media.
Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the Sixers head coach hasn’t been in front of reporters since March 11th, when the NBA season was postponed following a home win against the Detroit Pistons. That was the night Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and everything went to shit.
Today, we got some meaningful health updates and some general COVID-related nuggets as well, among them:
On Ben Simmons’ lower back recovery:
“With Ben, for those of you who remember in Milwaukee (when the injury happened), that was as disturbing a memory as it relates to a player that I can think of. He’s lying on his back, he’s vomiting primarily because of pain, and trying to get him back on the plane, and build him back up to some level of healthy so he can play basketball with us again – that timeline was always an interesting one. His health obviously ruled the day, but the effort he’s put in, given where he was, and the significance – he hurt his back in a real way – the effort he’s put in under restrictions on top of us, he is to be praised and applauded in a real way, in a significant way. The professionalism and discipline that he has shown, having that pass to get into the facility (and rehab), he’s teed off on that. He’s been outstanding. It could be a little bit of a silver lining of this pandemic, being able to get somebody as important as Ben back into our team.”
On Joel Embiid’s physical condition:
“Joel is always a topic. We get it. The importance that he represents, as being a complete parallel to (the idea of winning a championship), is real. I’ve had many conversations with Jo and spoke with him (Friday morning). He’s got a real desire to be at a playing weight that equals his best since he’s been in the league. With the restrictions everybody has, if you live in a home and you’ve got a yard, or a one-bedroom apartment and have to take those parameters into account, our medical staff and strength and conditioning staff have been all over that part of it. We give the players, within the reality of what they have to work with, the best we can give. Both (Joel and Ben) are in good places.”
On his job security and whether you can fully evaluate this team during a pandemic-affected season:
“You’re human and you think about it, but not to the point where it weights you down. But I get it. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I feel this strongly. As it sits, this thing is so incomplete. We had our starters for 19 out of 65 games. I think that this team was built for the playoffs. Like every team, you get some unfortunate injury situations. We get that we needed to be better on the road. We were dominant at home. Somewhere in the middle I felt like everything was pointing to us landing the plane, getting good health, and letting that environment be Judgment Day. I feel very confident, and, respectfully, cocky, that we’ve done good work. I’m proud of my coaching staff, Ime Udoka with the defense and Kevin Young and John Bryant and Jim O’Brien is still my touchstone. We’ve done some really great things there.
My development coaches, we’re hitting it every day and sharing information with the players. As it relates to the question about it impacting (me), I don’t know. What I do know is what I just said, to be true, and I’ve been with you and the city for seven years. We’ve gone through Naviculars and pandemics and five GMs and a hundred whatever players and here we are. I feel it’s incomplete. We need to come back to the table, take the team we have, and the work we’ve been putting in, and let that be Judgment Day. Let that environment be ‘you did or you didn’t’ type stuff, and that’s how I approach it.”
I also asked Brett the same question tossed to Elton Brand last week –
What does playing in front of an empty arena look like? Does the competition level change at all without the organic push from fans?
Brett Brown on playing without fans pic.twitter.com/ztgSm6zah9
— Jon Johnson (@jonjohnsonwip) May 15, 2020
Finally, some bullet points:
- Every Wednesday get gets on a call with bench coaches. Every Thursday peripheral staff like analytics, sports performance, etc.
- He’d like to play Joel Embiid 38 minutes a game in the playoffs.
- Answering a question about The Last Dance, he said “your best player has to grab things by the throat and lead,” which is as close as you can come to calling out Simmons and Embiid to step it up.
- He’s been on numerous Zoom calls with other NBA coaches and various basketball types.
- He mentioned the increased number of injuries that took place after prior lock outs. They’ll need to think through a ramp-up period to get guys back into playing shape.
- His dog is 16 years old and pulled a hamstring recently.
- The call went incredibly smoothly. Nice job by everyone involved.
That’s about it. Have a fantastic weekend.