The Sixers would love it if Brett Brown, their new head coach and a former Spurs assistant, turned out to be Gregg Popovich Jr.
One thing is for sure: Brown shares his former boss’ respect for other sports cultures and their potential to add something beneficial to his work on the basketball court. The new coach emphasized getting his players into shape in training camp, and he is borrowing ideas from an unconventional place.
“You look at cutting-edge technology out of sports science, and the Institute of Sport [in Australia] is among the leaders in the world, very globally recognized as cutting-edge,” Brown said, according to the Delaware County Daily Times. “I don’t know if anyone saw Australian-rules football. To me, they’re the fittest athletes in the world. It’s a hybrid of football and soccer and it just goes.
“Back in the late ’90s, those coaches influenced a lot of basketball coaches with the use of heart-rate monitors and eat-for-recovery and ice baths and nutrition and health massages — and keep on going. You start realizing that could, perhaps, provide you with an edge you need.”
Brown’s familiarity with Australian-rules football is not some random hobby he picked up. The Maine native and Boston University alum coached the Melbourne Tigers and Sydney Kings in the Australasian National Basketball League, and later was head coach of the Australian national team.
He will have to work hard this season to keep the Sixers from going down under in the standings. The team traded its best player, Jrue Holiday, on draft night, and the player they received in return, rookie Nerlens Noel, is recovering from a torn ACL.