Elton Brand signed a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, with the hope he can be a mentor to rookie Jahlil Okafor.
Brand writes in a first-person piece for Sports Illustrated’s “The Cauldron” that he’s not coming back because of financial considerations or to win championships, but instead to repay “what’s owed, about making sure that the young men who follow in my footsteps get what they’re entitled to [and what I haven’t always given them].”
In the post on The Cauldron, Brand himself provided an explanation why he was returning.
The truth is, my decision to return to the NBA isn’t about money, and it isn’t about rings. It isn’t even about me, really, although every athlete would like to go out on his or her own terms. It’s about repaying what’s owed, about making sure that the young men who follow in my footsteps get what they’re entitled to (and what I haven’t always given them).
… Now, here in Philadelphia, my adopted hometown, I’m excited to have a chance to do things differently — be a positive influence and help the organization get back on track.
He also talked about helping a young player like Jahlil Okafor, who’s had some disciplinary issues this year.
I’m not coming here to hold Jahlil’s hand — or anyone else’s, for that matter — because that’s not what he needs. But I do believe my experience and wisdom can benefit him and my other young teammates. It’s about communicating with them like men, starting to grow together, and — hopefully, eventually — winning some ballgames. That’s what Sam Hinkie and I talked about when he approached me about joining the team, and what has me so excited about this opportunity.
You can read all of Brand’s letter over at The Cauldron.
“`I know I can effect change and be a part of something,” Brand said before the 76ers played Minnesota. “I might not make it to the end when it’s really, really good around here. But I can be a part of something as a player.”
Brand writes that he never tried to mentor players in the past because he was “following the NBA blueprint that had been engrained in me from the beginning: Play well, keep your head down, offend as few people as possible, and get paid.”
He hopes to be a “positive influence” for the 76ers, specifically with Okafor, who he writes is “a good kid with a good heart.” Brand also mentions Nerlens Noeland Joel Embiid.
“I think I can be serviceable,” Brand said.
Looking to add some veteran leadership in the locker room, the NBA-worst Philadelphia 76ers have signed forward Elton Brand.
A two-time NBA All-Star, after playing college basketball for Duke, Brand was the first overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls and was named Rookie of the Year.
Brand has played 16 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Chicago Bulls (1999-2001) the Los Angeles Clippers (2001-2008), The 76ers (2008-2012), Dallas Mavericks (2012-2013) and most recently two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks (2013-2015). He has appeared in 1,041 career NBA games and made 867 starts, posting averages of 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks per game. Brand will join the Sixers for the second time in his career. He spent four seasons in Philadelphia averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game.
Brand started the Elton Brand Foundation in the spring of 2000. His foundation is an organization that provides support to worthy causes in Chicago, Illinois; Peekskill, New York; and Durham, North Carolina.
In the summer of 2006, Elton married his longtime girlfriend (and fellow Duke student) Shahara Simmons in North Carolina. Brand also played for Team USA in the 2006 FIBA World Basketball Championships, averaging 8.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Brand is a founding member and president of Gibraltar Films, a company engaged in film investment, acquisition, production, and distribution of motion pictures. The first project of Gibraltar Films was the production of a Vietnam-era prisoner-of-war film Rescue Dawn, directed by Werner Herzog. Brand attended the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.