Basketball has been Brett Brown's life. He grew up around the game and eventually played for his father, who was a coach at South Portland High School in Maine. Brown went on to play at Boston University and quickly entered the coaching ranks after graduating from college. He has been a coach without much down time at all since 1988.
But, under all the coaching layers, and away from his responsibilities to the 76ers, there is a basketball fan, a man who talks about the excitement of a Game 7 with a childlike glee.
"We may have a few Game 7s coming up," he said, referring to the current playoff landscape, as his smile widened. "It's great for the sport. There's nothing like a Game 7. If you really want to enjoy basketball, go watch fourth periods of Game 7. You've got 12 minutes to figure out if you're going to go to the Caribbean or if you're going to be playing in front of 20,000 people."
The Sixers will play either the Milwaukee Bucks or the Boston Celtics, who are tied, 3-3, in their best-of-seven series with Game 7 slated for Saturday night. Three other first-round matchups stand at 3-2.
Brown enjoys the gritty and granular planning that comes with the playoffs. He looks forward to getting to the Sixers' practice facility early in the morning to dig through film, analytics, and strategy with his coaching staff.
The Bucks-Celtics series, being extended to Game 7, has afforded the Sixers a couple of extra days. That means extra rest for the players, extra time for Brown to work on a game plan, and extra time for Brown to do something else he truly enjoys: watching basketball with his son, Sam.
"I love going through this with my son," he said. "To be able to sit on a couch and have the opportunity, with a 13-year-old gym rat who grew up in the game and under a roof as the son of a coach, like I did as a kid. To be able to share this experience, my job with him, is stuff that you can't quantify. It's one of my great thrills."
For fans, there's a lot to love about this time of year. There's no shortage of basketball to watch, coming on the heels of March Madness.
"We just saw the tremendous run that Villanova had, and there's nothing like the Final Four in NCAA basketball, and equally, there's nothing like the NBA Playoffs," Brown said. "As a basketball coach and fan, it's one of the great parts of the calendar for me."