Brett Brown can envision what success would feel like in the City of Brotherly Love. He heard it Saturday night when his team tied the game at 91 with 2:47 to play.
He saw it Sunday morning when Sixers faithful came out in full force for an invitation-only open practice at Haverford College.
”I grew up with this stuff,” Brown said at the conclusion of Sunday’s practice, when he did his coaching with a microphone so all could hear. “You realize the importance of people like this, real people. They are true fans. You feel like they are part of the rebuild, too.”
The Sixers were coming off a disappointing 104-92 loss to the Jazz, their 16th consecutive defeat. Amazingly for a group that experiences so little success, the team is comporised of players who care about one another and about improving.
There was a moment Saturday night when, after battling back from 11 points down, the crowd was ecstatic and on its feet.
Brown had the Australian national team head coach, Andrej Lemanis, visiting him for the past couple days. Lemanis was the one who mentioned to Brown the amazing atmosphere he saw at Wells Fargo Center.
“I was just blown away at the city coming out like they did given the season that we have had,” Brown said. “We came from 11 down and tied it at 91, and you look around, and you can’t help but be impressed with the crowd for being with us. If we can ever flip the switch and get it right, and A.I’s night confirmed it, too, we hope we can deliver that back to this city.”
“A lot of fans came out and we thank them for that,” Thaddeus Young said. “They have gone hard with us all season long. It has been a rough season, but they are still here and we thank them for that.”
Young is just 25 years old and yet, on this Sixers roster, that age is ancient. Young finds himself telling his teammates words that were told to him when he first entered the league.
“Mo Cheeks used to say to me, 'You just don’t know right now,” Young remembered. “And as I got older and understood the game more and knew how to break down defenses and play defense better, that was huge.”
Young refuses to let the losing bring him down or taint what has been a personally successful campaign. He's averaging 17.5 points, six rebounds and two steals per game.
“LeBron has had a losing season; Kobe has had a losing season before,” Young said. “It happens; Carmelo has had a losing season. Rondo is having a losing season right now. I continue to play, try to build and grow and figure out ways to win basketball games.”