The National Basketball League has always produced a high calibre of players and staff, and Brett Brown’s latest appointment is no exception. The former NBL head coach has taken his first head coaching position in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Brown is a NBL veteran, having coached in the league for 12 seasons, with eight spent as head coach. He earned NBL Coach of the Year honours in 1994 after leading the North Melbourne Giants to the National Championship, and took the Kings to the finals for the first time in five years in 2001.
Brown also paid his dues with the Australian Boomers, assisting Barry Barnes from 1996-2000. During this time he was an invited guest of the San Antonio Spurs during the 1998-99 season, and was hired as the team’s director of player development three years later.
In 2007 he was promoted to assistant coach, a position he held until he returned to Australia to take the Boomers to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Brown told the 76ers his time in Australia has set him up for the job:
“I hope it puts me in a little bit better shape, on just understanding how the rules change when you sit one seat further over.
"I’ve had 18 years of coaching, a few Olympic games and a few world championships. I’ve lived a very privileged life, basketball-wise.
"It gets me so excited to be able to come here and share that with our players.”
Brown has accepted the offer of a guaranteed four-year contract, with the 76ers hoping he will rebuild a team that has had seven different coaches since Larry Brown stepped down in 2002-03.
Brown follows in the footsteps of many NBL alumni that have taken on NBA coaching roles, with Chris Jent coaching for the Orlando Magic and later Cleveland Cavaliers, a player that Brown recruited in 1995 as an import replacement for the Giants.
Interim NBL CEO Stephen Dunn says that many former NBL players and coaches can easily transition to the NBA.
“The NBA is the most desirable league to be part of, and one of the most competitive and highly remunerated sporting leagues in the world," said Dunn.
"It is definitely a reflection of the Australian professional basketball program that many of our previous players and coaches end up with appointments there.
"Although our relationship is still growing, the NBL and NBA ties have existed for a long time.”
Other links include Jamahl Mosley, former Victoria Titans player who can now be found on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bench, and former head coach of the South Dragons’ Mike Price is assisting the Charlotte Bobcats.
The NBL can even boast LA Laker credits, with Phil Handy of the West Sydney Razorbacks as their player development coach, and Milt Newton of the South East Melbourne Magic is the vice president of player personnel at the Washington Wizards.
The NBL 2013/14 season begins on Thursday 10 October, when the New Zealand Breakers host the Wollongong Hawks at North Shore Events Centre.