BRETT BROWN'S basketball mind is like the waves crashing on the beaches at the shore - it just never stops. He has often said that once he retires, he wouuld like to spend his days living in a small cabin in the middle of the woods with a lake for fishing. He jokingly calls himself socially awkward, and envisions those retirement years when he is not obligated to talk to anyone.
That is hard to imagine as the 53-year-old still gets overly excited every time he talks about the game that has been a part of him practically his whole life. When talking, his voice rises, he often starts demonstrating a shot, a defensive stance, a side-shuffle with his feet.
If he gets to those woods some day, his time will have to be filled, at least to some extent, by an occasional visitor with knowledge of the game he so loves. No matter what he says, the fishing just won't be enough.
That was evident Tuesday after the team's practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Sitting on the side of the court with Brown were former Sixers coach and general manager Jim Lynam and his good friend, old high school teammate and college coaching legend Herb Magee. It was Brown's first meeting with Magee, and for most of their chat he sat with a half grin on his face and eyes as wide as he absorbed what the Philadelphia University coach was saying.
"First I've known about him for years," Brown said of Magee. "The winningest coach in college basketball history. So let's start there. Just to talk, I love to talk to older basketball coaches, especially.
"As I get older, I appreciate the history that this city has and some of the people who have been guests of the program have. To sit there with coach Lynam and the winningest coach in collge basketball history, I could do it for hours and just talk. You can always get something, so it's a knowledge thing where you always feel a little bit smarter. It's a respect for the city and how basketball grew to prominence in the city and is such a recognized city for the sport with somebody that's obviously been coaching for a long time.
"I beg, borrow and steal from everybody and am not shameful to admit it. It's something that from time to time you reach out to different people and you bring them in and inevitably you always say, 'So, what do you think.' Then down the road we'll talk more than what happened [Wednesday].
"If we can trick him to come back and be our guest again, I'll use him for a lot more than just good basketball conversation. With my own father, who is 76 and recently retired, he likes being involved in the game and he likes to help people, too. So to have this gem to be in this city I hope that other coaches might find it interesting to see all these young guys running around as much as I find it helpful to pick their brain. I hope it's a double-edge benefit."
Brown had a typical day yesterday, hoops from morning to night. "It's just the nature of the job," he said. "The days are long and you can't believe how quickly it goes. Oftentimes you're not even sure what day it is. You know who your next game is, the game after, but you're not, at times, sure of the date or the day. It's just part of the job.
"It's not anything that I'm complaining about at all. I love it. So this morning you get up at 6 o'clock to go speak to a group in New Jersey and you come back in here and talk to our wellness people that we're interviewing and then you sit with your coaches and try to plan a practice and then you actually do your job [coach a practice]. Then you go back upstairs to keep talking about, you know, whether it's the architects at the new Camden [practice] site about how we want to get our wellness area down.
"Tonight, my son's basketball coach had twins, so I'm taking their practice and I love it. Life moves and it's good. You won't hear me complain. I'm grateful to have all those things that I just said as my responsibilities."
His son, Sam, is on a team of 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds. Asked what kind of coaching he does for kids that age, Brown didn't hesitate to say that it's not much different from the type of practices he has with his painfully young team. "It's about fundamentals, always defense. How do you move your feet? How do you get your hands above a ball on defense? How do you shuffle your feet?"
The voice begins to rise and Brown starts to move his feet and defend with his hands. It's his life right now, whether his team is on a 26-game losing streak, setting a team record for consecutive losses to begin a season or capturing unexpected wins here or there.
It will be that way until he's casting that rod in the water and reeling in fish.
Newly arrived Turkish forward/center Furkan Aldemir sat out yesterday's practice and is doubtful for tonight's game against the visiting Charlotte Hornets. The team announced that he is suffering from plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Aldemir arrived Sunday from Turkey, played 10 minutes against Boston on Monday then got sore toward the end of practice on Tuesday.
"It's not as bad as it sounds," Brett Brown said. "He's come over here and all the physicals and MRIs didn't reveal anything. I think when you get off a plane, you go into a game, you have a very high practice . . . It's way more precautionary at this stage than it is something we think is going to linger. I could be wrong, but at this stage that's how it's been explained to me."