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Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 11:33 pm  |  37 responses

Brand New

Elton Brand fits right in.

by Matt Caputo

Over the summer, I spent some time following Elton Brand around the State of New York. We spent chunks of two days together discussing his life, career and where he wants to take both of those. All quotes from Elton in this story came from the series of interviews that served as the basis of the Elton B.E. Brand“Working Class,” my feature in SLAM 123.

For Elton Brand, most of it had to do with a homecoming. There was some talk about contract specifics and the like, but in the end it came down to location…location, location, location. Weighing out the pros and cons of walking away from a contract renewal in LA, Brand couldn’t help but to jump at the chance to come back east–effectively home–and help make a playoff team better. Although the Sixers lost their first game of the season in Toronto, Brand is showing signs of being very comfortable in his new surroundings.

“I don’t want to say over night because we still got a young team. It’s not like Boston, when they got together, they were all veterans from different teams. The P.J. Browns and Sam Cassells. In Philly we’ve got a run-and-gun kind of team of younger guys,” Brand told SLAM when asked about how quick he’d impact his new squad while being interviewed for SLAM 123. “You got the Pistons, who are a mainstay in the Eastern Conference, they’re vets. They know how to win and won it a few years ago. Boston won it last year, I don’t know if we’re going to reach the upper-echelon right away. Orlando has been playing together for a while. Jermaine O’Neal is in Toronto. So the East has gotten a lot better.”

In the Sixers second game, a hilarious 116-87 win over the still spinning New York Knicks, Brand finished with 24 points, 14 boards, 4 blocked shots and 2 assists. In a shade more than 30 minutes on the court, Brand gave fans a taste of what the Sixers will look like at their best. He provided a punch early by scoring down low and immediately began making plays on the defensive end. Even as the Knicks cut the lead to less than 10 in the third quarter, Brand played a big role in keeping their opponents at a distance nailing jumpers.

“I thought I played good defense. I had a hand in his face,” said Zach Randolph, who had the tall order to guard Brand in the Philadelphia home opener. “He had a real good game, I had a hand in his face, but he just hit a lot of tough shots.”

It’s his ability to hit tough shots and make plays in the paint that got him to Duke and then to the pros, so, it’s a familiar position for Big E.B. In Philly, he’ll have the benefit of playing with both Andre Iguoudala and former Clipper teammate, Andre Miller. While it’s only game 2, and despite the fact that Iguodala only tallied seven points in 30 minutes against the Knicks, Brand is well aware that how well he blends in with his new teammates is the key to the Sixers success and that that in itself is a learning process.

“I think I bring that post presence that is going to command a double-team and allow for guys to get better shots. Iguodala averaged 19 points last year and Andre Miller averaged 18 points but he (Miller) had to go get those points and he’s one of the most prolific passers that there is,” Brand said back in July. “I feel like I can give the guys that outlet. I command the double team, which means they’re going to have to come get me and that leaves some mismatches on the other side of the court. With our speed and athleticism, we can definitely take advantage of that.”

Brand must remain healthy in order for the Sixers plans for his addition to work. He’s never quite been able to play in all 82 games, but if he remains available the Eastern Conference just got a lot more exciting. While Philadelphia is a ton of basketball away from being a sure thing for an extended stay in the Playoffs this year, Brand is realistically optimistic that he’s in the right place.

“I’ve been in this league almost 10 years. It’s like amazing to me. All the old heads, O.G. cats and vets all told me that it goes by fast. These young guys will have us hanging up the hi-tops someday too,” Brand said over the summer. “Seeing Paul Pierce–he would work out with us in L.A.–get his championship last year and know how hard he worked. Just two years ago, they were in like last place. We went in there and smacked them up; Rondo, Perkins the center, Paul–that team without those two guys was like a joke. We smacked them up. We killed them. The next year, they were in the championship.”

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  • http://twentythreenine.blogspot.com Russ Bengtson

    Zach Randolph thought he played good defense? Um, how would he know?

  • http://deleted jdizz

    Brand is all right but I still hate Duke with a passion. Caputo maybe you should cut Coach K’s brake lines and do a story on that !

  • Captain America

    Brand is an excellent talent, but he is also a fine person. Very professional.

  • Young C

    Iguodala played fine. He doesnt need to get 20 points every night to be effective. He played good defense, got some assists, and played within the flow of the game. People put way too much emphasis on points. If they had lost by 30, then maybe Id complain.

  • http://deleted jdizz

    Chris Carawell, Trajan Langdon, Jay Williams, Josh Mcroberts, JJ Redick…..all busts and thats just to name a few……how sad is it that Christian Latner is the 2nd best former DUKE NBA player and he wasent even a good NBA player hahahaha

  • http://deleted jdizz

    coach K building players softer then Sharman since 1989……… put that on a t-shirt and sell it !

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Caputo

    YOUNG C > Point well taken.

  • http://deleted jdizz

    Yeah, I have to give Elton props eventhough I hate 2. I even met his brother Art and his mom Daisy , they were great people. Elton brands mother Daisy has huge hands, thats the one thing that stood out the most when she went to shake my hand hahaha. I bet Eltons got some HUGE mits.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    jdizz… what are you talking about? Do you mean while at Duke he was good? or after his time at Duke and his success in the NBA?
    Laetneer is not the 2nd best NBA player to come out of Duke. Everyone knows that. Boozer, Maggette, Brand etc.
    Besides, a coaches job in the NCAA is to have a team that wins- not to necessarily build stars in the NBA from their program, (that is what happens in the process of winning)- it’s all holistically related.

  • http://twentythreenine.blogspot.com Russ Bengtson

    Elton’s hands actually are gigantic.

  • Insomniac

    I suppose all of you “Duke haters” are entitled to your petty opinions, but at least get the facts straight: as of opening day of this season, Duke had the highest number of players (14) in the NBA and the those players had the highest combined salaries (over $74 million) of any university. Get over it, already.

  • NBA-JERSEY-KING

    Philly’s best power forward since Charles Barkley

  • http://stores.ebay.com/BASKETBALL-JERSEY-WORLD NBA-JERSEY-KING

    Philly’s best power forward since Charles Barkley

  • James Arnold

    jdizz is a duke hater there are 1000′s of jerks like him in every sports bar I go. Too bad jdizz Duke is great and so is Elton Brand

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Wow . . . 24 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks! Oh, man . . . he’s definitely what he was supposed to be.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Check hibachi 2.0! Comment! Comment!

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Leon Powe Line: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 18 minutes.

  • http://deleted jdizz

    Duke is great ???? They have won 1 championship in like the past 20 years…..that makes them great ????? Face it Coach K cant get the job done when it comes down to the NCAA tourney , he chokes. Coach K and Duke are college basketballs version of the NY Mets ahahahahahaha

  • ep

    jdizz…..
    duhon, maggette, brand, boozer, dawkins, deng, nelson……grow up and get over it, life is passing you by!

  • http://deleted jdizz

    duhon sucks, magette is a huge bust , dawkins is horrible, deng is average, boozer is good nelson is horrible……you just brought a pile of sh** to an argument and you left smelling like it………

  • http://maggiecoughlan.com Maggie

    A great example at how to make the most of an interview with a dynamic player like Elton Brand.

  • awesomepossum

    Like what Scoop said in SLAM’s back issues – he was Derrick Rose for Chicago then. Nothing’s (much) changed.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    jdizz, Elton Brand hates Duke too. Type “Elton Brand Duke letter” in google and hit the first link.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    WE NEED AN AL THORNTON STORY OR INTERVIEW ON THE SITE!

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ jdizz: Shut your trap, Duhon doesn’t suck. Duke HAS been pretty good in the past. You’re a little b!tch, stop acting like you’re smart. You sound like a f*cking 12 year old who just figured out how to use the internet. Also, nobody finds what you’re saying funny besides you, so thanks and shut up from now on. Okay.

  • matt(ballislife

    Kudos to Caputo on the article once again. I think Brand should be able to finish this season fully because it seems like he has a better supporting cast than he did in LA. I’ve been watching him since his college days so I’m hoping for the best for em. Also, I know iggy and dre are going to be happy with a low post presence, especially iggy on those double teams.

  • dblu

    Caputo, why no discussion about his career as a film producer? Why no mention of the EB1 shoe?

    JDizz, you really do sound like a 13yr old, which I guess you are. K has 3 championships in the past 20 years, and a whole lotta Final4s. At least bring the facts to your hating.

    What, I don’t see what you see when I type that phrase into google. In fact just the opposite, since one of the top links is to an article about the EB1 shoe, which twice refers to Duke (though not exclusively) in the ‘D’ and the pitchfork.

  • illydiva

    jdizz says:
    coach K building players softer then Sharman since 1989……… put that on a t-shirt and sell it !

    I don’t care what you think about Duke or Coach K. But get the t-shirt right before you print it, that’s “C”harmin and not Sharman. Neither myself [Sharman W] nor the HOFer Bill [Sharman] are soft in the way you suggest. LOL!

    GO SIXERS!! PHILLIES, World Series Champs!

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    im just going to cancel my subscription if you guys are going to continue to run everything here too

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Caputo

    it’s not the same story.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    Nice interview, but Elton Brand was only the 2nd best player on the floor tonight, after the assassin Joe Johnson.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Joe Joe was niiice last night.

  • Charles

    You’re really going to try to talk about best players from Duke and not talk about Grant Hill? None of these other guys can hold his Jock.

  • double-clutch

    teddy-the-bear owned jdizz…

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    Great interview Matt. Don’t forget to vote, people. If you ain’t old enough get Moms, Pops, Grandma, whoever but make sure someone you know makes a difference.

  • http://www.peterrobertcasey.com Peter Robert Casey

    Elton fits like a glove. Philly will be that team that Eastern Conference foes will hate to see on their schedule.

  • http://tooReal B Short

    Ummm….I guess you guys might want to retire your crystal balls.

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