New Australian Boomers basketball coach Brett Brown focused on Philadelphia Sixers first

ByNiall Seewang ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown is adamant his focus remains locked in on leading the 76ers to their first NBA title since 1983 despite taking on the role as coach of the Australian Boomers.

Brown was officially announced as the Boomers coach by Basketball Australia on Wednesday morning, taking over from good friend Andrej Lemanis, who replaced Brown after the London Olympics and led the team to fourth at both the Rio Olympics and FIBA World Cup in China.

Brown served as Boomers coach in 2009-2012 and the American has previously coached several NBL clubs in Australia.

Having taken over as 76ers coach in 2013, Brown will now juggle both roles as he aims to guide the Boomers to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Brown said he needed to get the green light from key 76ers officials after deciding he wanted to again lead the Boomers, but added his No. 1 focus was still overseeing his NBA team's progress.

"I needed approval from my two owners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who have been fantastic ... Elton Brand, our current general manager, was a driver behind that," Brown said. "It [the Boomers role] was a job that I wanted the more I learnt about it and I wouldn't have been able to do it without permission from those three people.

"I live a hectic life here in Philly ... my main focus is coaching the 76ers and then get going with the Boomers when that time arises.

"I trust the process from BA in connecting the dots in relation to ... the lead-up to Tokyo, so any conflict or exorbitant amount of time being taken away from my main job won't happen. That infrastructure BA [will put in place] ... will be an insulation so I can stay focused with coaching Philadelphia."

Brown said he was hopeful 76ers star Ben Simmons would be a part of the Boomers' Tokyo campaign but wouldn't confirm the All-Star's commitment, despite the Melbourne native saying last week he was excited to play under Brown for Australia.

"This isn't my stage to introduce Ben to the Boomers. I'll leave that to him," Brown said.

"Ben is yet to make a [definitive] statement about his involvement with the Boomers program. I believe that's coming [but] I'll leave that all to him, and in the event it plays out like we all hope it will, I think it's a natural pairing. He's been my point guard for the past few years ... in the event it goes the direction we all hope and expect, I will give him the ball again.

"I'm hoping the inclusion of Ben and the surrounding cast can enable us to get over the top (win a gold medal). I'm not taking this job for any other reason than to try to win a gold medal."

Lemanis said he reached out to Brown after deciding the Boomers needed a fresh voice following the disappointment of the China World Cup.

"For the Boomers to medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the coach best positioned to deliver that is Brett," he said. "His understanding of, and connection to, the NBA environment and nuances, as well as his knowledge and love of Australian basketball position him as the best person to lead the team in Tokyo."

Brown took "four or five weeks" to mull over the offer, speaking with Lemanis, Boomers assistant Luc Longley, Basketball Australia and 76ers staff before deciding to take on the role.

He said his history with several players, including Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles and Aron Baynes, as well as his respect for the Australian sporting culture, drove his decision.

"When I look at the team, I feel very much connected to those guys -- from Patty to Delly to Joe to Aron and so on," he said. "To look in my rearview mirror and remember those early days with those young men and now be able to reconnect with them is an attraction for me.

"The spirit of Australian sport is completely recognised throughout the world. When you talk to people (in the NBA), the Boomers mean something. The chemistry and spirit of the country, the competitiveness and mateship, it's a driving force for me, it's what all coaches aspire to bring into their programs and it's kind of inherent in the Australian sporting culture."

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