The Long Island Nets are Bret Brielmaier’s first head coaching job. For the past five years before being elevated to “big chair,” he served as an assistant to Kenny Atkinson, then after Jacque Vaughn replaced Atkinson, he served as lead assistant in the NBA “bubble.”
Now he’s back at Disney World for the G League “bubble” and ready for the new challenge. He’s worked with a wide range of head coaches in his 13-year NBA career. In addition to Atkinson and Vaughn, the 35-year-old has worked under Lute Olsen at Arizona, Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and Mike Brown, David Blatt and Tyronn Lue in Cleveland ... where he won a ring before moving on to Brooklyn.
“I’m very fortunate to have worked for some incredible mentors and hopefully I have taken the best from all of them and brought it to this organization and to this group,” Brielmaier said.
“There is not one specific thing that each guy I took from but overall, very fortunate and they all gave me the message of ‘Do this your way. Put your fingerprint on it. The best way to coach is your way’ and hopefully that is what I have been doing and continuing that way.”
Each coach is known for a certain quality, yes, fingerprint. In Brielmaier’s case, it’s his energy and so far, it’s what’s rubbing off on his new players. Even with only two official practices for Long Island, Brielmaier did not shy away from providing some of that early energy during Monday’s Zoom call with reporters, setting the tone early for a team full of new faces and a precious few vets. With a mix like that, coaching energy is an absolute necessity.
“The one thing I really love about ‘One T’ ( Brielmaier’s nickname) is his passion and energy,” CJ Massinburg said about his head coach. “I played under Nate Oats in college and he is a guy that if your energy isn’t right at the door then you might as well turn around and not come to practice so he wanted energy.
“At the professional level, I was hoping I can get a coach with a lot of energy and passion. That fits ‘one t.’ He always has the energy and you never know when he is having a bad day because his energy is always through the roof and it is contagious. I feel like if one day I were to coach, I’d have a lot of energy.”
And as Massinburg noted, he was willing to put in some offseason workouts in Brooklyn,
Shannon Scott, another returning player and the oldest player on Long Island, echoed the message. The 28-year-old, who might have some coaching ambitions himself, says Brielmaier’e energy is “very contagious” and the players aim to match his energy during practices.
“That energetic feeling he gives to us is very contagious,” Scott said on Brielmaier. “I feel like the two practices we had so far, everybody had high energy and it started from him. We were able to match his energy and go off how he feels for us to practice.”
There is no secret Brielmaier’s energy has been a common trait in his coaching tenure. Caris LeVert called him a “high energy guy,” someone who always has a positive attitude, and no better coach for young players.
“Bret is a great coach and a great guy,” LeVert said of Brielmaier when he was hired as head coach of LI back in December. “High energy guy. [He] has a positive attitude each and every day and I think as a young player coming into this league, that is all you can ask for. Someone who pushes you every day and has a positive attitude. He definitely does both of those things and I can’t wait to see him be successful being the head coach so shoutout to him.”
Brielmaier also has an eye for talent. It was he who recommended Joe Harris, a Cavs castoff, to the Nets when he arrived in Brooklyn.
On top of his valuable energy, Matt Riccardi, the GM of the Nets G League affiliate, offered high praise to Brielmaier Monday. He is more than happy to have him in the big chair having worked with him on the Nets for five years.
“Me and coach Bret have had a great relationship for the last five years. We have had such an opportunity to work with each other. His office was three doors down from me in the practice facility when we were both there on an everyday basis,” Riccardi said, noting that the 35-year-old’s probably the G League coach with the most NBA experience, not to mention success.
Brielmaier is also, like Riccardi, evidence that the Nets are using Long Island not just as a training ground for their players but for their basketball operations staffs, business staffs, etc. It may very well be that they will find their way to big jobs with other teams. It would be a loss, but on the other hand, the opportunity each has had will resound around the league. Coaches, like players, talk.
- Playing in a bubble for a second time? The Nets G League coach has some advice - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York