As it turns out, an angry mob calling for your head will light a fire under just about anyone. Fresh off 48+ hours of ruthless scrutiny, and two quarters away from falling 0-2 to a middling-team at home, BB reached a tipping point.
Reporting after the game has described an intense scene at halftime in the Sixers’ locker room featuring a profanity-laced speech from Brown to the team that apparently lit the 51-point third quarter that led to victory. While such an expression of frustration is entirely out of character for Brown, it makes sense when you stop to consider the circumstances.
Brown’s job is clearly on the line if he doesn’t get past the first round (maybe further) as evidenced by Josh Harris’ refusal to give his head coach a vote of confidence when specifically given the opportunity after Game 1. While I always felt Brown was too “buddy-buddy” with management and ownership to be fired this season, Harris comments—or lack thereof—have made clear that’s not the case.
However, Brett Brown’s profanity-laced outburst at halftime was the culmination of much more than the team being in danger of falling down 0-2 to Brooklyn, and was much more than a reactionary speech being hastily delivered from “the hot seat” as we often see in sports. Instead, this was the long-overdue consequence of something bigger.
For a man who has endured 314 losses in six seasons, and seen 92 players move through the turnstile that is the Sixers’ locker room, Brown is ironically still at the mercy of a group of players who have collectively been in Sixers’ red-white-and-blue for a historically brief amount of time. Of the eight players who clearly make up our playoff rotation, five—Butler, Harris, Boban, Scott, & Ennis—weren’t on the team to start the year, and up until the Game 1, the starting-five only played 10 total games together (though you probably know that already).
While the post-Game 1 reaction and subsequent blame falling on Brown was predictable, and as the head coach of the team, likely warranted, it’s foolish to think Brown wasn’t as pissed off and hurt as the fans. Brown is one of the few last men standing from The Process, and he’s carrying the weight of protecting all that has been built in the past six seasons—something that likely doesn’t weigh on the majority of his roster at all.
Guys like Embiid, Simmons, and Reddick obviously feel that pressure, but none of their jobs are on the line—an eight-digit number will flow through their bank account over the next year whether we win this series or not.
And here’s the reality that I think most Philly fans ought to sober up to: the overwhelming majority of the people wailing about how it’s “finally time to win, Brett’s not the answer” haven’t trusted The Process, let alone trusted Brown. If I can find the irony in that, I wonder what Brown makes of it—it’s got to be pretty frustrating to have everything you’ve worked for in the past half-decade of your life be called into question by fans (and jeopardized by players) who simply can’t relate to his experience.
Make of Brown’s halftime outburst what you want, but in my opinion, it’s the culmination of six years worth of what can mostly be described as B.S. criticisms from the impulsive radio-callers of the city—and anyone who can be lumped in that category—equally as much as it was a reaction to his team being in danger of falling down 0-2 or him being on the hot seat.
If you perceive yesterday’s events as the fans and media lighting a fire under Brett, and then Brett lighting that fire under his players, you’re missing the full picture. Yesterday’s third-quarter was a 51-point “Fuck You” to anyone who has doubted him and who continues to doubt him, myself included.