Why Tad Brown is the Rockets’ biggest loss to date

Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Although it seems like a distant memory, the Houston Rockets once boasted one of the most stable front offices in the NBA. A key cog in the Rockets’ operations was Daryl Morey, who was viewed as one of the best executives in all of sports, as his analytical approach revolutionized the game, and James Harden was the perfect player for such an approach.

Former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was also a perfect match for Morey’s philosophy, as he encouraged not only the 3-point shot but the corner 3-pointer in particular, carving a role for P.J. Tucker. Tucker and Harden are both on other contending teams now, and the Rockets received a bevy of assets in return.

From Kelly Olynyk to a historic haul of draft picks, the Rockets covered their bases in the deals. Rockets GM Rafael Stone orchestrated those deals, providing proof that the franchise is in good hands without Morey the Rockets’ former crew.

Why Tad Brown is the Houston Rockets’ biggest loss to date

In essence, each of the aforementioned pieces of the older Rockets’ teams have been replaced, and although the Rockets have gone through a painful season, better days lie ahead for the team on the court. Off the court the franchise has just been dealt their biggest blow to date, as long-time CEO Tad Brown has decided to step down at the conclusion of the season, which he announced on Friday.

Brown joined the franchise in 2002, meaning he’s been with the team far longer than any of the aforementioned personnel members who exited the franchise, and rose from VP of corporate development to CEO within four short years. Brown had remained in this role for the entire time, despite a change in ownership, which isn’t common.

Brown has been a lot more valuable than a player, as he’s been in a high-level capacity, as evidenced by him orchestrating the aforementioned change in ownership. Brown has also taken a genuine interest in being there for the players, which goes far beyond the playing surface.

A good example of this is the friendship he formed with James Harden, which was much different than the typical player-to-CEO relationship that is oftentimes just limited to the court. Harden referred to Brown as a father figure, which Brown expounded upon.

“I filled a need for him at a time in his life, I was there. He knew I was unconditionally at his side.

I wanted to do anything he needed to be successful and to be great not only on the court, but off the court and to grow.

James means a lot to our family. His mom is close with me and all of our girls. It’s much more than basketball.”

Brown also shared his appreciation for Rockets legend Yao Ming, stating that he went to China with Yao and spent alot of time to understand the pressures he was under. Again, this is far beyond the scope of Brown’s minimum professional requirements and further proof of how valuable Brown has been to the players, especially off the court.

The 56-year-old CEO has provided wisdom and guidance for younger players that are oftentimes in need of maturity and who are oftentimes still finding themselves in life. And his experience as a parent has provided a level of relatability and comfort for those same players.

All the while Brown has remained in the background, as he hasn’t sought any of the praise or credit for the blatantly obvious impact that he’s had on the players who have come and gone from the Houston Rockets franchise. Brown has even assisted in the process for replacing him, which he didn’t have to do, and also decided to remain with the team for the 2020-21 season, in spite of the ushering in of new faces.

This surely helped with the transitions to Rafael Stone and Stephen Silas, which is more than what can be said about many of the others that the franchise has lost.

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So while the Houston Rockets can replace Brown’s position with a new name and face, they won’t be able to replace his sincerity and kind-heartedness. Those types of people aren’t as easy to find.