Brett Brown, 58, has his Philadelphia 76ers team three wins away from reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals to face either the Orlando Magic or the Toronto Raptors. Brown is familiar with postseason success.
Brown was hired by Philadelphia as the team’s head coach on Aug. 14, 2013, after spending nine seasons on the staff of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. There Brown was part of the Spurs staff that made the playoffs every season, reached the NBA Finals three times and won the NBA Finals twice. Being part of those results and the Popovich coaching tree made him a strong candidate for a head coaching job.
Since being hired by the 76ers for his first head-coaching gig, Brown’s regular-season record has been 178-314. That’s an unimpressive winning percentage of .362 but for the first few seasons in Philadelphia, Brown didn’t have much to work with. Center Joel Embiid, who was drafted in 2014, was the team’s lone star until guard Ben Simmons was drafted in 2016. Guard Jimmy Butler was just added this season.
Because of the recent addition of talent to the roster, 103 of Brown’s 178 wins have come over the past two regular seasons, meaning the team averaged under 20 wins in Brown’s first four seasons. All of Brown’s postseason experience has come over that time as well.
Brown has one playoff series win under his belt as a head coach. In the 2017-18 season, Brown led the 76ers to a 4-1 win in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals over the Miami Heat. Philadelphia was then eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Boston Celtics, losing that series 4-1. Through Game 2 of the 76ers’ current Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Brooklyn Nets, Brown has a career postseason record of 6-6, putting his winning percentage at an even .500. Brown has a long way to go to equal the playoff success of some of his predecessors.
Brown is the 22nd head coach in the franchise’s history. The history of the position is storied, beginning with the team’s first head man, Al Cervi. When the franchise was known as the Syracuse Nationals, Cervi took the team to the playoffs in each one of his seven full seasons. He reached the Finals three times with one victory in those three Finals trips. Those who would follow in Cervi’s shoes would make many playoff runs with one Finals win during a span of the next two decades to follow Cervi’s departure. Then came Billy Cunningham.
Cunningham coached the 76ers for seven seasons from the 1978-79 season through the 1984-85 season. He took Philadelphia to the playoffs each season, reaching the Finals in three of those seasons. With players like Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Moses Malone, the 76ers won the 1983 Finals with Cunningham at the helm.
Brown may have a long way to go to rank among the most successful coaches in Philadelphia/Syracuse history, but with the current roster, it seems he has a chance. If he 76ers can keep the team together and the players can stay healthy, Brown may have many more victories on his record before he retires.