News had broken earlier about the decision to appoint Philadelphia 76ers head coach, Brett Brown as the next Boomers head coach ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and Basketball Australia has released official news confirming this on Wednesday morning.
“It’s been an absolute honour and privilege to coach this group of players and to represent the country at the highest level," Andrej Lemanis, who ends his tenure as Boomers head coach with this change, shared in the release. "I’m thankful for having had the opportunity to be involved with the national team for such an extended period and for getting to work with so many great people. I leave with plenty of fond memories.
“My aim was always to leave the team in a better position than when I joined. There are so many people who contribute to the success of the program and I’m extremely grateful for the effort and support of all involved that enabled us to continue the progression and rise of Australian Basketball on the world stage.
“One of the key elements in making the Boomers environment so special is the willingness of everyone involved to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. For the culture to remain, we all have to live by, and display, those values. It is my belief that for the Boomers to medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the coach best positioned to deliver that is Brett Brown. His understanding of, and connection to, the NBA environment and nuances, as well as his knowledge and love of Australian basketball position him as the best person to lead the team in Tokyo.
“I’ve been involved in the process and have been 100 per cent supportive of Brett and it’s been a collaborative approach. It’s what I believe is best for the team and I have always made decisions in the best interests of the team.”
Multiple Boomers spoke out publicly on the news, ahead of BA's official release. This included Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova and Mitch Creek.
Ben Mallis explored the need that drove a change, from the perspective of an evolving Boomers head coach role that demanded more in terms of relationship management, for a new wave of Australian basketballers.
Being a sound tactician is no longer the filtering mechanism through which the Boomers head coach is to be judged. The role has become political. It has become managerial in the truest sense of the word. As the national team becomes flooded with NBA players, expectations aren’t the only thing changing. The personalities of the athletes wearing the green and gold have also changed forever. We are no longer talking about Aussie battlers who come together within a Boomers context and combat basketball nations with more talent.
Those days are over.
“When the opportunity to coach the Boomers next summer in Tokyo came up, I was reminded of my deep history with Australia and Australian basketball,” Brett Brown said. “I felt a duty to try and help in any way that I could. The spirit of the country and the athletes of the country exemplify on a day-to-day basis the passion that is Australian sport. That passion is respected and recognized throughout the world and I’m very excited to be a part of that again.
“This is our mission and my message to our team: We’re going into the 2020 Olympics to win a gold medal. I understand the magnitude of this statement. I would feel irresponsible having any other goal but this.”
Update: Fox Sports Australia's Olgun Uluc also confirmed over a teleconference call with Brown and Lemanis, that Brown would be bringing in his own coaching staff, which includes "people he's familiar with, as well as making sure to include up-and-coming Australian coaches". There does not seem to be a commitment beyond the Tokyo Olympics.
Last week, Ayush Gautum outlined the relationship between Australia's first NBA All-Star, Ben Simmons and Brett Brown, and Simmons' own Boomers history as well.
A former student of Naismith Hall of Fame coach Lindsay Gaze, Brown has extensive history in Australia. The American coached Ben Simmons’ father, David Simmons, while working as Gaze’s assistant at the Melbourne Tigers. He then coached the North Melbourne Giants to an NBL title in 1994, collecting an NBL Coach of the Year award in the process. Brown later moved back to his native America in 2002, spending the next 11 years as an assistant to legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
While working under Popovich, Brown even coached the Boomers from 2009-2012, leading Australia to the quarter-finals at the London Olympics. Although a coaching change will undoubtedly disrupt continuity in the Boomers system, Brown shouldn’t be viewed as an overseas import. He has experience in this role and knows the senior Boomers players, while also having ties to Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden at club level.