SAN ANTONIO – If you've seen the many uncomfortable television interviews that have been conducted with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, you know the difficulty it is to have him answer questions.
But when the question involves 76ers coach Brett Brown, you can barely get the new coach of the USA men's national team to shut up.
Popovich gave Brown his first job in the NBA, a newly-created position of director of player development. Brown's passion and knowledge of the game turned that hire into a 12-year stint which produced many philosophical battles, a ton of wins and some NBA championships.
Popovich's team won their fifth title under his tutelage in 2014, while Brown has been mired in basketball hell during his three seasons in Philadelphia since leaving th eplace he calls Disney Land. Their basketball paths right now couldn't be traveling in more opposite directions, but the bond they've formed hasn't strained.
"There wasn't one specific thing that I would say. It's a combination of things," said Popovich of what he saw in Brown. "In Brett's case he loved the game, he loved to talk the game in a sense of Os and Xs and philosophies and that sort of thing. I enjoy having people around that I can argue with. You can think out of the box with that sort of thing. He enjoys that.
"Another thing is his humor. We had a lot of fun. I enjoy being around people that can laugh at themselves and enjoy humor. Can give it and take it, that sort of thing and Brett can do that. He's one of the funniest guys I know. So that combination of humor and he loves to philosophize and talk basketball attracted me very much."
Asked when he might start showing some of that humor to the Philadelphia people, Brown laughed and said, "When we start winning."
You could see the excitement in his eyes and hear it in his voice of coming back to the place where he assisted Popovich for 12 years. But, amazingly, he brings that level excitement with him to every game, every practice. It is what Popovich admires most about Brown.
"After that, his work ethic. He's the most positive person that I know," said Popovich. "I honestly don't know who else could be in Philadelphia doing what he's doing. I couldn't do it. I'd last a month. Two years ago, I mean. A month. Not in the third year.