PHILADELPHIA — Brett Brown thought long and hard about leaving a winning tradition in San Antonio to start almost from scratch in Philadelphia.
In the end, the 76ers got their man.
Brown was officially named the 24th head coach in team history on Wednesday after a four-month search to replace Doug Collins.
“At the end of the discussions, it became very real what I was leaving,” said Brown, a standout player on South Portland High School’s unbeaten state championship team in 1979.
“I’m not a gypsy coach. I like commitment from both sides. It’s hard sitting there going through a normal rebuild process. You have to stay focused on what you’re here for,” added Brown, who went on to play basketball at Boston University and is the son of legendary high school and college coach Bob Brown.
Brown understands the Sixers are rebuilding, but he doesn’t plan to continue the losing ways in Philly.
“The development is going to be huge. It’s going to be an educated science project where we try some different things,” he said. “I’m going to do my job, and put in the pieces. That’s all I know how to do and that’s all my players know how to do.”
Collins led the Sixers to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, including a first-round upset of No. 1 seeded Chicago in 2012. But he stepped aside in April after a 34-48 finish.
The Sixers were counting on All-Star center Andrew Bynum to lift them among the elite teams in the East, but knee injuries forced him to miss the entire season and he signed with Cleveland this summer.
All-Star Jrue Holiday was traded on draft day for the rights to Kentucky center Nerlens Noel as part of new general manager Sam Hinkie’s roster overhaul.
“We went through an exhaustive search to find the right head coach for our organization, one who had a passion for developing talent, a strong work ethic to help create the kind of culture we hope for, and a desire to continually improve. Brett has all of that,” Hinkie said.
“He also has a wealth of experience as a head coach and a championship pedigree, to boot. We are delighted to welcome him as our coach, and I am invigorated for the two of us to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Brown won four championships with the Spurs, including three as an assistant under Gregg Popovich. He joined San Antonio’s basketball department in 1999, left to coach in the Australian NBL for three seasons and returned as an assistant in 2002.
“The San Antonio Spurs have been very fortunate to have the services of Brett Brown for over a decade,” Popovich said. “His creativity, teaching ability and work ethic are unmatched. I’m quite confident that the Sixers will benefit greatly from his presence.”
Brown said he wants to run an up-tempo offense and is in the process of evaluating his players. He pointed to Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes as building-block pieces.
“We want to get out in the open court and run. We want to go,” he said.
Brown plans to put a coaching staff together by Sept. 1. Assistants Aaron McKie and Michael Curry will be considered to stay.
“We need a staff with a mentality heavily focused on development, pre-practice work, video work,” Brown said.