Larry Brown spent six years running the Philadelphia 76ers. Former Philadelphia general manager Billy King would take offense to us pointing out that Larry ran the Sixers, but at the end of the working day Larry Brown and Larry Brown’s ideas ran the 76ers from 1997 through 2003. He took those Sixers to the playoffs in 1999, which was a bit of a surprise, and led the team to the NBA Finals in 2001 – a piece of work that in the minds of most made up for just about everything else he did with that particular franchise. Larry Brown acted as a coach and de facto GM along the way. He salted the squad’s crops prior to his Larry Brown-styled flight to Detroit in 2003, leaving it with a GM in King that made a series of Larry Brown-styled win-now moves over and over again in the wake of Larry Brown’s departure. Yes, Allen Iverson crossed over Tyronn Lue and the 76ers took Game 1 of the Finals in 2001, but by and large Brown’s whole time in Philadelphia was just a series of penny-(barely) wise and pound-foolish maneuvers. (We’ll get into those later.) Brown, currently relegated to coaching at Southern Methodist University after years’ worth of attempts at getting a job running the 76ers front office, unleashed on the NBA’s worst team in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday . Taking aim at fish in a barrel (in the same way, we admittedly are in response), Brown teed off on a Philly front office that is making NBA history in willingly punting two consecutive seasons in order to create a groundswell of young talent and cap space. From his rant : "I hate what's going on in Philly," Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday. "They don't have a basketball person in the organization. It makes me sick to my stomach. "These analytics, they don't mean squat to me. 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." […] “You get assets by developing young players, draft picks, and moving contracts. But how much teaching is going on? "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." So many … so many things. To start, I’m sure Sixers coach Brett Brown, who helped develop several San Antonio Spurs bench units as a longtime assistant coach under Gregg Popovich, doesn’t like to hear Larry Brown musing about “how much teaching is going on.” To end it: Come off it, Larry Brown. The 76ers are in this position because too many years of Larry Brown-esque moves salted the team’s crops. When Brown saw another shiny object and left the franchise high and dry in 2003 in order to move to Detroit (a move that lasted all of two seasons before he left again, prior to sticking with the Knicks for one whole year), he won the team’s front office and ownership over on a brand of franchise-making that did the team’s fans no favors. Those Sixers refused to rebuild. Giant contracts were handed out to role players like Kenny Thomas. Bad contracts were turned into players like Chris Webber, on his last legs. Allen Iverson was turned into Andre Miller, because that move was totally going to put the Sixers over the top. Elton Brand was given huge money after an Achilles tear. Re-treads like Doug Collins, Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski were allowed to run the show and shoot for 45 wins. It was a joke. A hoop crime of the highest order. “Basketball person” after “basketball person” (to use Larry’s terminology) was allowed to run the show, and the Sixers stunk as a result. The team’s top showing was a second-round playoff appearance in 2012, only pitched because Derrick Rose tore his ACL and Joakim Noah sprained his ankle in a six-game opening-round win over the Chicago Bulls. All while working with a massive payroll. For more than a decade between Allen Iverson’s pathetic “practice?” press conference and Doug Collins’ equally-as-pathetic shot at relevance in dealing for Andrew Bynum, the 76ers were the very picture of boring-as-hell mediocrity. Larry Brown, working through various gigs and attempting two different coups in New York and Charlotte as he tried to take on a role as personnel chief, apparently stewed. In the wake of Brown’s comments, Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil tossed this out on Thursday : “You know, after seeing Larry Brown’s SMU team in the Final Four this year it was tough to hear those kind of comments,” O’Neil said on the radio show. “Was he in the Final Four this year?” When asked by (radio host Angelo) Cataldi if O’Neil was taking a shot at the last Sixers coach to take a team to the NBA Finals, the Sixers’ CEO kept going. “How are they doing? How are they gonna be this year?” O’Neil said. “Nah, you know, I think it’s hard for people not in the market to understand what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. I think the good thing about Philadelphia is that the fans certainly get it.” And, of course, Larry Brown had to “fire ” (because he always quits before being fired) back: Well, ask Scott where SMU was when I took the job. We were 315th and two years later, we’re a top-25 team. And who is Scott O’Neil by the way? I mean, what is his basketball background? And he ought to look at how I care about the team rather than criticize my job and what I’ve done. Look at the Sixers where they were when I took that job and where they are today. How many coaches have been there since I left? You know I’ll talk to Scott O’Neil every day and be a resource for him every day. (Full disclosure: I wrote for HoopsTV.com, a website Scott O’Neil owned, back in 2000. Trust me when I say that is hardly tugging me toward bias in this sad, little slap-fight.) Yes, the 76ers stunk when Larry Brown took over. They had the Rookie of the Year (Iverson) and the second pick in the 1997 draft, which they used in part to to deal for Tim Thomas, Eric Montross, Jim Jackson and Anthony Parker. Parker, who later went on to work his way into perhaps the best American expatriate playing overseas before coming back to the NBA, was quickly let go. Jackson was turned into expiring contracts, and Thomas was turned into the aging Tyrone Hill. Eric Montross, throughout his Philadelphia career, remained a pillar of salt. The team entertained us all by making the Finals in 2001, but that was in a miserable Eastern Conference bracket; one that saw the Sixers overwhelming a Milwaukee Bucks squad featuring Scott Williams at starting center. Brown initiated a litany of win-now moves that, outside of developing a former Seattle SuperSonic afterthought in Eric Snow, did little to help the franchise’s long-term goals. Via Liberty Ballers, Brown’s revisionist history didn’t stop there : "Let me explain something to you. I inherited San Antonio, we won 21 games in my first year. Won 56 the second year, but here's the deal. I had five guys on my team that won 21 games that had career years. You understand that?" Yeah, I understand that. Every kid worth his weight in trading cards back then knew that those Spurs were in the tank because something called a “David Robinson” had Navy duty during your first year in San Antonio, and the combination of Robinson’s rookie year and the addition of Sean Elliott (drafted third overall after Brown’s first year) led to the uptick. I know the hotels aren’t that great when you travel between SMU games, in comparison to NBA standards, but this is so transparent that it borders on saddening. Larry Brown wants to run an NBA team. He doesn’t want to bother with scouting or salary cap maneuvering, but he wants to work as the el jefe at the top of an NBA squad. Understandably, because his family
The Scoop:Brand gives Atlanta 15 guaranteed contracts, joining a frontcourt that features Al Horford, Pero Antic, Paul Millsap, Mike Scott, Mike Muscala and Adreian Payne. EB started 15 games at center last year following injuries to Horford and Antic, but the 15-year veteran isn't likely to help fantasy owners in a backup role this season.