As I get started here, I want to make a few things very clear. Brett Brown is my guy. I was a Process truster from the start (actually, I said that the Sixers should blow things up and tank before they ever even started the Process). Brett Brown carried us through those dark (and yet always exciting in some weird way) times with impressive grit and commitment to the plan. He has now led the Sixers to back-to-back 50+ win seasons. Oh, and the Sixers are a game away from the Eastern Conference Finals in a year with no LeBron standing in their way. There are plenty of reasons to keep Brett Brown.
But the supposed fact that there’s no one else out there isn’t one of those reasons. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Listen, I’m a fan just like many of the rest of you. And as a diehard Philly guy, I pride myself on my knowledge of sports, especially as they relate to our Philly teams. However, I also recognize the limitations of my fanhood. I do not have my finger on the pulse of every single front office and coaching staff around the NBA, let alone the international or college basketball realms. My guess is that most of you do not either. It’s not our jobs to know who the best coaching options are out there, so why do we pretend like we’ve scoured the market and know best?
But I get it. Change is scary. What if there is no one better than Brett Brown? What then?! And that’s a legitimate concern. But sometimes the risk of the unknown outweighs the status quo of the known. This has been proven on multiple occasions throughout professional sports history. I’m going to look at just two examples that I feel like we as Philly fans going through this time together can most relate and connect to. One example from a different sport and one from the NBA. Let me start with the one closest to home.
From 1999-2012, the Philadelphia Eagles had a grand total of one head coach. That’s a truly impressive run by any standards, especially in a city as passionate and supposedly negative as Philadelphia. Andy Reid had quite the resume, as well. He had the best win total, winning percentage, and playoff victory total in team history. He won six division titles and made the NFC Championship five times. The Eagles with Andy Reid at the helm were a perennial contender.
And yet. How many championships did Reid win? We all know that answer. Eventually (after way too long), the Eagles front office rolled the dice and went out looking for a replacement. Six seasons later, the Eagles were celebrating their first Super Bowl win in franchise history. Meanwhile, Andy Reid is still coaching, still making the playoffs, and still falling short.
As time went on and Reid continued to pile up the accolades as a head coach of the Eagles, the reasons for moving on from him became harder and harder to justify. I mean, after all, who else was available that the Eagles could hire that would have been able to measure up to that standard of success? There wasn’t a coach out there who wasn’t locked into a head coaching job already that could hold a candle to what Reid had done in his 14 seasons with the Birds. And this was the argument of so many who didn’t want him fired.
And to be honest, it was an even more legitimate argument for a coach with the kind of success Reid had than it is for a coach (Brett Brown) with a losing record for his career (and yes, I realize that is grossly simplifying things). The Eagles eventually realized, though, that the risk of a change was worth the risk of losing the status quo. Based on where the Eagles are now, I’d say that risk paid off.
Now let me bring up a name that has been tied to the Sixers as a possible Brett Brown replacement. The Brett stans will often toss his name out there as a reason why Brown shouldn’t be fired. “Who will we bring in?! You think Mark Jackson is better?!” Well no, I don’t. And that’s not where I’m headed with this. Rather, I’d like to use Jackson as another example of the potential benefit of moving on.
You likely remember that Mark Jackson was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 2011-2014. Prior to Jackson taking over, the Warriors had reached the playoffs ONE (read that again, one) time over the previous 17 seasons. In just his second year with GSW, he led them to 47 wins and a postseason appearance. He followed that up the next year with a 51 win team and another trip to the playoffs, the first time the Warriors had made back-to-back playoffs since 1992.
And then he was fired. Wait, what?
Surely, someone like Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson must have become available then. Why would you ever fire someone who just brought you success unless there was a clear better option out there?! And yet, that’s what the Warriors did. There wasn’t a Pop or Phil out there. There were a bunch of question marks. And the firing of Mark Jackson led to those same questions among Warriors fans that many of you Sixers fans are asking today.
Maybe a home run hire exists somewhere across the basketball landscape, but it won’t come free of risks.Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, Mark Jackson Victim of Golden State Warriors’ Insane Expectations.
Would someone like Steve Kerr, Kevin Ollie or Fred Hoiberg immediately vault the Warriors into contention? Of course not, and that’s making the assumption that any would have interest in this position. Ditto for the likes of Stan Van Gundy or Lionel Hollins.
And Tom Thibodeau? Good luck getting the Chicago Bulls to allow him to walk with three years left on his deal.
The Warriors clearly wanted a better coach than Jackson, but where’s the guarantee that person is even available?
That quote – and the article as a whole – eerily mirrors the exact sentiments of Sixers fans regarding moving on from Brett Brown. But here’s the answer to the last question in that quote: THERE ISN’T A GUARANTEE. And frankly, that’s okay. It still doesn’t make it a good argument to not move on from someone. I’d say taking the risk of the unknown (hiring Steve Kerr, a former player who had never coached a game of basketball at any competitive level in his life) over the status quo (no matter how good that status quo felt at the time) worked out alright for the Warriors.
Don’t Make Decisions Based Off Fear
Listen, as I said in the beginning, I’m a Brett Brown guy. I think firing him would be very impatient and ultimately a mistake for the Sixers. But my reasoning goes far beyond the fear of the unknown. When you’re arguing that Brown should stay around because “well what if the next guy isn’t as good,” then you’re grasping at straws. And the Fire Brett crowd knows they’ve already won. Don’t make decisions based off fear. Make decisions based off what is right.
Brett Brown is the right coach for this job for a whole gambit of reasons, none of which include that no one else good enough exists. Because we just simply can’t make that statement. So stop grasping at straws and get back to supporting Brett Brown for what he’s done to earn that support. Whether he ends up leading us to the Conference Finals or not, he’s proven himself worthy of another year. And not because we’re afraid that everyone else sucks.