During his seven years as head coach of the 76ers, Brett Brown has shown an affinity for the San Antonio Spurs and one of his mentors, head coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have been one of the NBA model franchises, with five NBA titles since 1999, and they have reached the playoffs 22 consecutive seasons.
That streak is in serious danger of ending.
The Spurs will take a 5-10 record into the Wells Fargo Center when they visit the Sixers on Friday. They are riding a seven-game losing streak, following Wednesday’s 138-132 loss at Washington against the struggling Wizards.
Brown worked a few different jobs in two stints totaling 12 years for the Spurs before being named the Sixers head coach in August 2013. He was an assistant coach to Popovich for seven seasons before coming to Philadelphia.
When asked about the Spurs’ losing streak, Brown said, “I didn’t even know that number, I don’t care what that number is.”
That is because of Popovich. In his 24th season as the Spurs head coach, Popovich is 1250-585 (.681) in the regular season and 170-114 (.599) in the postseason. He is also the U.S. National Team coach.
“They are coached by Gregg Popovich, and I know the large majority of the coaching staff exists, not as many of the players,” Brown said.
That is the problem -- the players are different.
Tim Duncan, the cornerstone of the five championship teams, is an assistant coach. Players such as Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are gone.
DeMar DeRozan (21.7 ppg.) and LaMarcus Aldridge (17.9 ppg.) are the leading scorers.
Despite their struggles, Brown is expecting to face a team like the old Spurs.
“My fondness and respect for Pop and friendship with Pop has extended two-plus decades, and I don’t care what they are doing,” said Brown, whose 9-5 team has won two in a row. “If they won 15 in a row, I would give you the same answer. All I do is look down there and see Pop and the San Antonio Spurs, and I know we better bring our A game or we will be in for a long night.”