Elton Brand laughed softly at the question.

Yes, the Philadelphia 76ers' power forward said, he has considered the personal irony of this first-round playoff matchup.

"That's kind of weird," Brand said Sunday. "I thought about that coming down here."

The Miami Heat went after Brand not once but twice — the first time harder than the second — and came away empty each time.

Considering what eventually happened in the aftermath of both pursuits, those temporary disappointments have to be considered among the most fortuitous failures in franchise history.

The first time was in the summer of 2003, soon after Dwyane Wade was drafted.

The Heat signed Brand, the former No. 1 overall pick out of Duke four years earlier, to a six-year, $82 million offer sheet. It appeared he would be paired with Wade for the remainder of the decade.

The burly Brand as Mr. Inside. The slasher from Marquette on the perimeter.

Incredibly, notoriously cheap Clippers owner Donald Sterling chose to match the Heat's offer.

The Heat shrugged and signed Lamar Odom, Brand's teammate with the Clippers, to a five-year, $65 million deal. That deal went through, and after one playoff year in Miami, Odom was packed off to the Lakers in the megadeal for Shaquille O'Neal.

"It's funny," Brand said. "I look at the first one, if I signed, I don't know, I might have been with the Lakers. Lamar Odom came. He got traded for Shaq. That might have been me. You never know."