The turnaround in the city of “Brotherly Love” can be attributed to many changes, but 76ers fans will look at two of the most instrumental improvements being a bounce back season from forward Elton Brand and first year head coach Doug Collins changing the culture of a franchise that went 27-55 last season. The Sixers have become an “incredibly unselfish” group of young players this season that have come together under the refreshing coaching of Doug Collins.
In the summer of 2008, Elton Brand had decided to bypass the bright lights of Hollywood as a Clipper and stunningly ink a 5-year contracted estimated to be around $82 million dollars with the Sixers. The initial marriage with Philadelphia did not go as planned that’s for sure. A combination of injuries and lost playing time as a starter over his last two years with the 76ers had many people in the NBA wondering if Brand would ever amount to anything with Philadelphia. This season has rectified all the doubters as Brand has averaged 15 points-per-game along with 8.4 rebounds-per-game. Brand has been playing with a fracture in his left hand, but claims it’s a non-issue as he leads the Sixers in their chase towards an NBA title in the post-season later this week.
Elton Brand joined WIP in Philly with Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano to discuss how he looks at this year for himself personally, why didn’t he ask to be traded after having a tough start in Philadelphia coming off a free agent contract, what did he know about Doug Collins before he came in as the head coach of the 76ers, does he feel the 76ers have become a team with defined roles and if the bone fracture in his hand is an issue right now.
How do you look at this year for yourself especially after the last two you had coming in that were dissapointing?
“You know this year has definitely been much more fulfilling from the injury year, to you know not starting, to being able to be an interval part to a playoff team and a pretty good team before these last two losses we were the third best team since the All-Star break in the Eastern Conference and top six or seven teams in the entire league since the All-Star break, so we really developed. We are really playing well and me being a part of that, I was very satisfied with that.”
There are many players with your resume given with what had transpired for you that would have asked to be traded. You never did that. How come?
“Right absolutely. I’m just…I came here for a reason. I came here to be a part of something special and I like this city. I like these players. I’m always optimistic also. You know it’s not trade me or you know guys get hurt and things happen. I’m like okay, I’m thirty-two [years old], thirty-one, thirty-two years old, I’ll just ride off into the sunset. I’m just not built like that. I came here for a reason and I’m going to go down fighting.”
What did you know about Doug Collins before he came into Philadelphia and how did you feel about him going into this season?
“You know I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I just knew him [Doug Collins] from being a great commentator. He seemed to know his ‘x’s and o’s’ on TV at least. You know his son Chris Collins went to Duke prior to when I was there, but I didn’t know him personally, but he really came and changed this culture around our team. He had every guy held accountable for their role, which we didn’t have in prior years that I was here.”
This year the Sixers seem more like a team now with defined roles? Do you agree with that?
“I agree. It’s a team. Everybody takes pride in their role. We’ve lost probably six to ten games that we could have won because we’re still defining those roles, so this playoff run wherever it takes us is going to be a good one, but we’re going to be even better next year because guys are going to know what they have to do to get better.”
Is the bone fracture in your hand an issue right now?
“No. It might have been an issue you know three or four weeks ago when it happened. It just came out now. It’s not…it just came out in the media now. No, it’s not a big deal with the hand, but you know coach’s orders. If that’s what he choses to do I’ll take some rest, but if not I’m going to win these last three games and go out with a winning record this season. That’s my goal.”