CAMDEN — Less than 48 hours after one of the most shocking defeats in Philadelphia professional sports history, coach Brett Brown believes more than ever in the 76ers.
The team’s ownership is showing the same faith in him.
The Sixers were eliminated from the postseason by the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night when Kawhi Leonard’s winning jumper bounced on the rim four times before falling through the net. Brown said Leonard’s shot seemed to hang on the rim for a month.
“My belief on what we can do and how I see the world has only been advanced,” Brown told reporters at the team’s Camden training facility Tuesday morning. “That deflation, that moment (Leonard’s winning shot) has a chance to be incredibly powerful for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. It hasn’t (put) me into a ‘woe is me’ mood. I’m going the other way. I’m doubling down on what I believe in.”
There had been widespread speculation that Brown would be fired if the Sixers lost in the second round of the playoffs as they did last season. There were some reports that Brown had to reach the NBA final to save his job.
But an hour before Brown spoke to reporters, Sixers managing partner Josh Harris met the media and said Brown would return as coach.
Of course, one of the main reasons why there was so much speculation about Brown’s future was because Harris did not directly answer the question when asked before the playoffs began if he would commit to Brown returning as coach next season.
“A lot has been made about this in the press, and truthfully you can’t believe what you’re reading or what you’re hearing,” Harris said. “Brett’s job was never in jeopardy.”
Brown just completed his sixth season as Sixers coach.
The team won at least 50 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1985-86.
Brown said he had no issue with how the team publicly dealt with his future.
The coach conducted his exit interviews with players Monday during the day and then met the 76ers owners for dinner in Manhattan on Monday night.
Brown said he had several conversations with Harris throughout the playoffs.
“Josh and I speak freely,” Brown said. “I was completely aware of how he saw my role and future as the playoffs unfolded. I’m just fine (with the team) not responding to the noise that surfaced.”
The Sixers face a busy offseason. There’s no mystery about what the team needs to do to improve. Embiid must get in better shape. Simmons needs to develop some sort of perimeter shot.
Decisions must be made on whether to resign free agents JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris.
Brown spoke Monday with as much passion and energy as he ever has about what the Sixers have achieved during his tenure.
“We have a chance to annually knock out 50-win seasons and truly contest for a championship,” he said. “This is a destination. It wasn’t when I came here. We have everything we need to move this program forward.”
Still, Brown is the son of a coach, and that’s why he knows almost better than anyone that no coaching job — least of all in the NBA — lasts forever.
An early-season losing streak will probably renew the speculation on his future.
“There will be a time when I’m not here,” Brown said. “I hope we can leave something behind.”