After 16 NBA seasons with five teams, Elton Brand was done. He had no regrets. It was a wonderful career for the former No. 1 overall pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 1999 draft.
Retirement didn’t last too long.
When the 76ers came calling for a second time, Brand happily accepted. He officially agreed to terms on Monday and didn’t dress for their 109-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Why return to the grind of the NBA for a 4-33 team?
“We had contact. I still live here. My kids go to school in the area,” Brand said. “I was offered assistant GM, TV gigs. I turned them all down. When it was something local, something with the Sixers, something dear to my heart, that's when I took it into consideration. I still didn't want to do anything. As a player, coming back, it just seemed more interesting to me. I knew I could affect change. I might not make it 'til the end, when it's really great around here, but I can be a part of something as a player.”
The Sixers have sorely been lacking veteran leadership. Adding a player such as Brand is ideal, especially for this extremely young group.
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Brand appeared in 1,041 career NBA games and made 867 starts in 16 previous seasons on his way to two All-Star Games. He also earned the 2005-06 Joe Dumars Trophy, presented each season to the player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.
He can still produce on the court as well.
“I think I still got it,” Brand said. “I think I can still be serviceable. I'm definitely not here for 35 minutes a game. I definitely can give something on the court.”
And off the court.
“It'll probably be different on an individual basis,” Brand said. “You let them see how hard you work, how seriously you take this. All the guys I know of are great guys and hard workers. Talking to coach (Brett) Brown, he's the most upbeat 3-and-whatever team (now 4-33) you could imagine. I'm here for all of them. It's about ball.”
When the Sixers host the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night, Brand may appear in his 1,042nd game. It’s a game he never believed would come to fruition when he retired.
“It was over,” Brand said. “I was thankful for the great opportunity I had. I kind of moved on. I didn't train basketball to come back. I was doing yoga, riding my bike, taking the kids to school. I wasn't training for a comeback.”