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January 14, 2020

Eytan Shander: It's time for the Sixers to send a message — by firing Brett Brown

Opinion Eytan Shander
18_Brett_Brown_Sixers_76ersvsCeltics_KateFrese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown.

It’s time.

I don’t want to see Brett Brown fired. I didn’t want to see it happen last year either, but there comes a time when a new message is needed. 

We see it all the time in sports, a coach wearing down his players after the original message has dulled. It’s never going to be this simple — to just move on from Brown as the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers — but after watching such an underachieving road team, I’m left with no other choice. 

This will be met with the same resistance as a “Fire Brett NOW!” column — different means, I guess, to the same end. The point here is that sometimes it’s not the goalie’s fault you’re down 5-0, but by pulling him you send a message to the team. You don’t need to see Peter Laviolette fired from another job to understand that we see coaches burn out all the time. Be it team or individually speaking, the Sixers have simply become too complacent in their current situation. 

What led to this and how will moving on from Brown at the end of the season help? Let’s examine a couple of things.

We want Ben Simmons to turn into Ray Allen so badly. People would even settle for Jason Kidd. Brown’s job isn’t to call out Simmons, his agent, or anyone in his camp. It’s to maximize Simmons and Joel Embiid at the same time. That may prove to be impossible, but as the team struggles to comprehend it, Brown will be in the crossfire. 

Using Simmons' lack of growth as a shooter – which he seems beyond reluctant to change – as a barometer on if Brown should be fired is problematic. Coming into Monday night, he’s taken just 17 shots outside the paint! If Simmons makes the All-Star team this year, which is far from a lock, it continues to reinforce his own belief that he can ignore the coach. Until the organization comes to grips with two stars struggling to truly co-exist, they’ll burn through this coach, maybe even another one. 

Who’s out there? Be prepared for the Stan Van Gundy tour, or the Sixers trying to pull Jason Kidd or Tyronn Lue from the Lakers bench.

The Sixers have one of the best – no, let’s be fair here – THE best home court (field/ice/turf) advantage on the planet. So be prepared, because the inevitable firing of Brown at the end of the year will be your fault. 

But don’t you dare change, Philadelphia. The same reason why the Center is on fire every single home game is what also makes us the most unique fan base on the planet. Nobody provides the same amount of positive energy and accountability as a Philadelphia 76ers fan — the same fan who’s been through the tank, bad picks, Sam’s firing, Collar-gate, Fultz vs. Tatum, Simmons refusing to shoot, Embiid still not quite there, and now most likely a 4-5 seed in the East. 

“We boo when they suck; we go nuts when they win.” 

It’s a pretty simple mantra but look at how it manifests on the floor. We’ve seen players – even Simmons – respond to boos and come back the next game with a revived sense of urgency. Booing works. So does pouring out your heart in joy. You may get one or the other, maybe both, depending on the night. Immediate accountability is the fundamental difference this year with a Sixers team that’s atrocious on the road, but near flawless at home.

Nobody is reacting to the same pressures or urgencies on the road, including the head coach. There’s no home crowd ready to pounce on you with a turnover or missed shot, nor ready to explode with the loudest cheers you’ve ever heard. 

If Brown can’t overcome that on the road, then don’t expect it from Simmons or Embiid.

Time’s Yours, Andy

This is as wide open of a door as you can get for Andy Reid winning the Super Bowl. It’s not going to be easy, but to be fair, nothing is for this coach in the playoffs. I’ll spare you the “are you rooting for Andy?” regurgitated radio content for something more relevant to this column. 

I don’t know if there’s anyone in sports who needs a win more than Reid. It’s the immediate validation that would cap off a HOF career. Losing again, no matter in the AFC Championship or Super Bowl, just adds another chapter to one of the saddest stories in playoff football. Nobody needs a win more than Reid, like nobody suffers a playoff loss worse than Reid. 

We can’t rewrite his history here in Philadelphia, but we can be a part of it moving forward. We raised Reid as a fanbase. Let’s all — hopefully — enjoy the win, man.

Pop Culture Pick of the Week:

Our Eagles are going to be part of the Amazon “All or Nothing” series airing on February 7th.

But was it the best choice? I love my Eagles, but I love drama. Here were some better choices for the all-access program:

Browns – Watch Freddie Kitchens lose control of every single room he enters

Cowboys – Jerry Jones takes the entire series to fire Jason Garrett

Jets – Adam Gase trades or cuts someone every week!

Patriots – This is really just a cover to film other teams

Angels – See Mike Trout ask, “Really?” 90 times a year as LA misses the playoffs

Knicks – James Dolan keeps drafting power forwards to remove unruly fans

Warriors – “Life Comes at You Fast”

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan during the week on @973espn (Mon.-Fri. from 12-2 p.m.), @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.), and @SBNationRadio on the weekends. You can also catch him on FOX 29 Good Day.

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