Even after a historically poor season that consisted of a franchise and NBA record 26 straight defeats, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown still has something to be proud of, and it wasn’t his point guard Michael Carter-Williams claiming Rookie of the Year.
His pride comes from watching his pupil, fellow Australian Patty Mills, hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy last June after trouncing the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
The duo’s history spans back to their Australian origins and Mills playing for Brown for the Australian national team. After leaving Portland, Mills returned to Melbourne during the NBA lockout to continue playing. After a shorter stint in China, Brett Brown was largely influential in bringing Mills to San Antonio late in the 2011-2012 NBA season.
“Patty Mills, you just see him and the thing that makes me most happy is we’ve shared in his journey,” Brown said.
Brett Brown spent twelve seasons in San Antonio as an assistant coach and director of player development before using his experience, track record, and spot in the world famous Gregg Popovich coaching tree to seize a heading coaching gig with the Philadelphia 76ers. After consecutive drafts with a clear plan for the future, Brown’s career can only be on the upswing from here.
Once regarded as one of the best team players in the game, Mills has since ditched his constant towel waving for three-point baskets and as the regular backup for Tony Parker, after losing weight and showing his commitment to being more than a bench bookend. In the NBA Finals, Mills averaged 10.2 points a contest, including 17, with five three-pointers, in the championship-clinching victory.
“Then he finds a way to grab a position, then comes back in such great shape,” Brown added. “You see his growth as a teammate and then to a legitimate piece of a championship team.”
Fellow Australian Aron Baynes, another Brett Brown national team standout, was also a member of the Spurs’ championship team.
Mills will miss the first approximately the first half of the 2014-2015 NBA campaign after shoulder surgery, but is eager to return and help the San Antonio Spurs attempt to conquer the basketball world once more.
And if Brown’s Sixers aren’t on the opposite end of the floor, which we all know is highly unlikely this season, it would be a good bet that he would once again like to see Mills and the Spurs win the NBA championship.