Brett Brown Discussed One of His Most Memorable Interactions With Kobe Bryant
CAMDEN, NJ -- The day after the NBA received the worst possible news to date regarding the legend, Kobe Bryant, not many players were looking forward to practicing or performing. The Philadelphia 76ers were no different than anybody else.
Although they didn't have a game on schedule until Tuesday night, the Sixers were still obligated to show up to their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, to prepare for the Warriors. Ideally, the team would want to put emotions aside and keep it business as usual.
But that wasn't possible. Considering just how much Kobe Bryant meant to the game of basketball, it was hard to ignore what happened. So before the Sixers even took the court on Monday for practice, their head coach, Brett Brown, decided to have a team-wide conversation regarding the late legend.
"We talked as a team in there," Brown revealed on Monday after practice. "We went around the room, and everybody shared their personal story [about Kobe]." Out of respect for his team, Brown wasn't open to discussing anybody else's story. However, he was more than willing to reveal his own.
Back in 2016, Kobe Bryant was wrapping up his long and highly successful career with the only team he played for -- the Los Angeles Lakers. Like many legendary players who intend to hang up their sneakers after the current season they're playing in, Bryant treated his last go-round in the NBA as a farewell tour.
When he came to his hometown of Philadelphia on December 1st, 2015, Bryant took some time out of his day to have a long-winded discussion with Brett Brown. "I had the chance to sit with him in my office for 45 minutes alone and just talk Philly hoops," Brown said.
"The thing that came out of that. . . Just talking with him was that it was an easy and real conversation. Like, he cared and was engaged. It wasn't something he had to do. He talked a lot about his family. He blew me away when I said, 'what's life like for you after basketball?' And he started talking about animation. He was really involved with animation, and he had this desire to get involved with kid's literacy. He was just in the game. Even when he was about to leave the game, he was in life -- he lived it."
The Sixers' conversation about Kobe on Monday morning helped the team come together and cope with each other. Their respected big man, Al Horford, credited his head coach for coming up with the idea to have the team-wide conversation.
"We all got to reflect on him and his life," Horford mentioned. "Coach Brown put a lot of things in perspective for us. I was happy, in a way, just to get us all together in one room. Meeting with the guys -- that's what made me feel better."
For Brown, everything went as planned. While the circumstances were extremely unfortunate, he came out of the conversation with a good feeling. "For me to see the group just speak freely. . . it openly confirms once again that I've got a great team," Brown says proudly. "High-character, good people, and there's a genuine side to this group that I really respect."
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_