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July 12, 2021

Former Rockets exec Tad Brown hired as CEO of Sixers, Devils to replace Scott O'Neil

Former Rockets CEO Tad Brown is being hired to fill the same role for Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group that controls the Sixers and New Jersey Devils, the Sixers announced via press release on Monday afternoon. Brown steps into the role vacated by Scott O'Neil, who recently announced he would be leaving the organization for opportunities still unknown at this time.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tad to the HBSE family,” Joshua Harris said in a statement. “Tad is an exceptional leader in our industry, and one with a deep passion for innovation and community engagement. With nearly twenty years’ experience leading the Houston Rockets and Toyota Center, we are confident that he will bring a fresh energy and new ideas to our teams, organization and local communities.”

“I want to thank Josh Harris and David Blitzer for this incredible opportunity to lead HBSE in its next chapter,” Brown added. “This role not only allows me to work for innovators like Josh and David; it also allows me to work alongside some of the industry’s best talent that has been assembled across the HBSE organization. This is a world-class sports and entertainment organization that cares about the cities and fans it serves. My family and I are thrilled to begin our new journey and I’m eager to help guide HBSE to even greater heights.”

Brown, who announced with the Rockets that he would "transition from his role" in Houston following the end of the 2020-21 season, was a Rockets mainstay whose time in Houston pre-dated Daryl Morey's arrival in 2006. Originally brought on as Houston's Vice President of Corporate Development prior to the 2002-03 season, Brown was named CEO in 2006, roughly six months after Morey became assistant GM of the Rockets.

On the surface, Brown's job with the Sixers (and Devils) will be running the business department, and given the blurring of lines between business and basketball ops in Philadelphia's not-too-distant past, most fans will be hoping it stays that way. Brown certainly has a few feathers in his cap on that front, cited as an integral figure in Houston's regional television deals in addition to serving on the NBA's Media Committee, working through the ins and outs of rights packages.

That experience might serve Brown and the Sixers well in the not-too-distant future. In recent months, sports business publications have speculated on the future of the NBC Sports regional networks following the announcement of NBC Sports Network shutting down by the end of 2021. The Wall Street Journal reported in May that NBCUniversal (owned by Comcast) is in the process of exploring RSN sales, and the New York Post recently reported that Sinclair Broadcasting Group made an offer to acquire seven of NBC's regional networks, including Philadelphia. It's an evolving situation with huge financial implications regardless of how it plays out, and having someone with some level of expertise in the field on board should be helpful for the Sixers.

Beyond the business side, Brown made it a point to try to build relationships with Houston's best players in an effort to keep them happy. James Harden referred to Brown as a father figure during his time in Houston, with Brown taking the time to grow close not just with Harden, but Harden's mother. Brown also took trips to China with Yao Ming early in his Rockets career in order to gain an understanding of the Chinese center's importance to his home country. Perhaps most importantly, he's a guy that Daryl Morey seems to trust enough to have the two reunite at a new organization.

Frankly, the less you have to hear about the business side as a sports fan, the better. If Brown helps the Sixers make a bunch of money and keep the star players happy, that will be enough to make it a successful hire.

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