Sixers Used Discussions of Religion and Politics to Build Team Chemistry

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Losing in any sport is tough. As a young player in the NBA, the only thing you know is winning. You most likely won in AAU ball, won District and State Championships in high school, and likely went to a high-profile NCAA program.

Being a young player on the Sixers roster between 2013 and 2016, probably meant a lot of losing basketball was coming your way.

The Sixers players and organization, though, knew that the bonds they created together off the court, would translate into winning basketball someday.

They just had to Trust The Process.

AP Photo/Michael Perez

In an article written by Kevin Arnovitz for ESPN.com, he explored the inner workings of the Sixers Organization and how they built the right culture during a time where, on the outside, culture seemed nowhere to be found.

Some excerpts from the article can be found below.

From Kevin Arnovitz, speaking on the Sixers’ mandatory Powerpoint presentations for players on a topic of their choosing.

Sixers Coach Brett Brown calls the breakfasts, generally on an off day. Sometimes the invited guest speaker will be a wrongfully convicted criminal defendant, or perhaps a celebrity such as film director and Philadelphia native son M. Night Shyamalan. But about once a month, a member of the Sixers’ roster will be called upon to prepare a presentation. The player will work with the team’s director of player development and coaching administration, Connor Johnson, and the video coordinator to craft the talk. Together, they’ll come up with a PowerPoint component and maybe a couple of video clips.

Team building exercises are something the Sixers took very seriously over the past few seasons. With so many young players and multiple players from different parts of the world, it’s a serious relationship builder when learning about things that make each player who they are as a human being.

From Head Coach Brett Brown:

“Through sort of just organic discovery, we started to learn that the conversation topics, and the level of variety, is expedited tenfold when you have foreign views from a small group of 14 or 15 teammates,” Brown says. “And whether it gets to religion, whether it gets to politics, whether it gets to geographic conversation, it’s just healthy when you have a perspective that you certainly couldn’t generate if you had 15 American players in a row.”

This sense of diversity isn’t restricted to the cultures of each individual player, it is mounted on what makes them so great as a team on the basketball court. The way they run their offense uses a diversity of different sets of offenses bringing a wide-stretched menu to choose from. The can push the up-tempo offense and score in a fast pace type of game with or without big men on the floor. They can rely on the halfcourt game working the ball through Center Joel Embiid.

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The array of options for the Sixers correlates with what the culture they have.

The Sixers are decidedly international in their offensive sensibility. In a certain sense, diversity — on the floor, in the locker room, and in the interests shared at the team breakfasts — is the identity in Philadelphia.

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