NEW YORK - As the 76ers begin another unabashed effort to post the worst record in the NBA, former coach Larry Brown says he is disgusted by what has become of the team he led to the NBA Finals in 2001.
"I hate what's going on in Philly," the Hall of Fame coach said Wednesday. "They don't have a basketball person in the organization. It makes me sick to my stomach."
Now the coach at Southern Methodist, Brown coached the Sixers from 1997 to 2003. He has coached a record nine NBA franchises and led eight of them to the playoffs. He talked at a media event for the American Athletic Conference.
Brown spoke highly of current Sixers coach Brett Brown. However, he said he could not coach a team whose intended goal is to lose as many games as possible to secure a potentially high lottery pick.
"No, I wouldn't do it. We wouldn't lose. Brett can coach, he's one of Pop's guys," Brown said, referring to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. "But what they are doing to that city to me is mind-boggling. That's the greatest basketball city in the world with its fans and you want them to sit back and watch you lose.
"Can you imagine telling Allen Iverson that this is a rebuilding season so we're going to be bad on purpose?" Brown continued. "I love [Nerlens] Noel, I love Joel [Embiid]. But you can't put that stuff into them. Again, it boggles my mind. I understand you have to get assets to get better. You get assets by developing young players, draft picks, and moving contracts. But how much teaching is going on?"
Brown, 74, also was critical of the team's plans to build a new practice arena in Camden.
"Nothing against Camden, but it's Philly's team," Brown said.
One year after the Sixers reached the Eastern Conference semifinals and a season spent waiting for center Andrew Bynum's knees to heal (they never did), owner Josh Harris cleared out the team's front office, buying out coach Doug Collins and firing general manager Tony DiLeo before the start of the 2013-14 season.
Harris hired Sam Hinkie, previously the assistant general manager in Houston, to replace DiLeo. Hinkie is an advocate of advanced basketball analytics. The Sixers finished with the second-worst record in the league last season (19-63) but fell to the third pick in the lottery, and drafted Embiid, a 7-foot center who will likely sit out this season after surgery to repair a broken right foot.
"These analytics, they don't mean squat to me," Brown said. "Throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. To say that these analytics guys have the answer is crazy. It doesn't apply to basketball. Everybody uses the data you get, but that's what coaching is. Maybe it will work, I don't know. But it's a shame what those fans are going through waiting to see if it will."