Brett Brown had a captive audience, but the 76ers coach still left an estimated 1,200 coaches hanging on every word as he described the shot that ended last season.
That, of course, was the four-bouncer at the buzzer by Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard that ripped the Sixers’ heart out.
The Raptors won the Eastern Conference semifinal with that clinching 92-90 win in Game 7 over the visiting Sixers.
Brown opened up a free coaches clinic Monday at the Sixers’ Camden practice facility not talking X’s and O’s but heartache.
He first detailed the Leonard shot.
“I could see Joel [Embiid] just stalking him into the corner and the shot goes up and it hits almost under the rim,” Brown said, referring to the Sixers center. “And it kind of goes straight up. And it is like time for me stood still. It is like the moon in a pitch-black sky was sitting there. The horn goes off while it is sitting there.”
Brown and everybody else were frozen watching the shot.
“And then it goes in,” Brown said, before referring to Toronto coach Nick Nurse. “And on purpose I don’t blink, I just walk through, shake Nick’'s hand, ... and see Joel upset and go straight in the locker room and immediately take my suit off and put my sweatpants on, and just [begin to] sort of think.”
He thought of two painful late shots that beat the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs while he was an assistant coach, recalling the painful details for his audience.
The first he referred to was Derek Fisher’s turnaround jumper with 0.4 seconds left as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Spurs, 74-73, in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals that the Lakers would eventually win in six games.
Brown then talked about Ray Allen of the Miami Heat, hitting a corner three with 5.2 seconds left in regulation to tie the score in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Heat would win that game, 103-100, in overtime. Miami would then win Game 7, which was Brown’s final game with the Spurs. He was named the Sixers’ head coach after that season and is entering his seventh year on the job.
“I have experienced pain,” Brown said, alluding to those two shots.
Then, talking about Leonard’s shot, Brown added, “I haven’t experienced that type of pain.”
But Brown then told the assembled coaches how bright the Sixers’ future appears.
He used the coaches clinic as an example, noting that five years ago about 64 came to see him speak and that this year more than 1,200 registered.
Brown grew more excited when talking about this season’s team.
“We have had back-to-back 50-win teams, we have a 25-year-old All-Star [Embiid] and a 23-year-old All-Star [Ben Simmons]," he said. “We have the best team I have had this year. We have the deepest bench, we have veterans, we have men, we got pieces. [General manager ] Elton Brand has done a hell of a job.”
At that, the coaches burst into applause.
Brown wasn’t available for comment afterward.
Notes: First-round draft choice Matisse Thybulle was supposed to be one of the players helping at the clinic, but Brown told the coaches that he turned his ankle.
The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey said Thybulle sat out the event as a precaution and would be examined again Tuesday.