February 25, 2011
Being the son of an NBA coach comes with plenty of benefits, free tickets, access to professional training facilities and additional notoriety among them. Sometimes it can even help launch a prospect's future (see under Austin Rivers, among others).
Yet Elijah Brown, the son of former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, is now feeling the sting of being a coaches son. The sophomore star for St. Edward (Ohio) High, is taunted nearly every game, both for his father's failure to deliver a title to Cleveland (and help keep LeBron James, in the process) and for the family's uncertain future. Each time an NBA coaching vacancy opens up, it brings questions about whether Brown would land there and relocate his family with him.
Creative Googling teenagers have caught on to the trend, leading to some unique chants when the sophomore heads to the free-throw line.
"People are going to talk, they are going to say things and try to get inside my head," Elijah Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "My dad and I have talked. There is nothing I can do to control what people are going to say. I only have control over what I can do."
The Plain Dealer chronicled a series of different chants that have been aimed at the athletic 6-foot-3 point guard, who has developed a knack for scoring big baskets in his first season as a starter for the Eagles.
"Who's your daddy? He got fired."
That was chanted in the regular-season finale last Saturday at Mentor, where the Eagles outlasted the home team, 108-105, in an epic game in which Brown -- on his 16th birthday -- led St. Edward with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
"San Antonio, San Antonio."
That was the catchphrase earlier this year at St. Ignatius, a reference to Mike Brown being rumored as returning to the Spurs.
"Where ya gonna go? Where ya gonna go? Indiana, Indiana."
Another time, another gym. Same-old story. And those were some of the mild ones.
For his part, the elder Brown said that his son has taken the trying times and jubilant ones with a spirit of level-headed determination, a factor that is already starting to get him noticed by collegiate programs.
"He's always been on an even keel," Mike Brown told the Plain Dealer. "We've talked. He understands.
"His freshman year here was tough for him. He had never sat [on the bench] before. He got frustrated. But I think it taught him a life lesson. I think he realized that if you want to succeed, you have to go to work. More than anything, that has fueled the season he is having."
The taunts may be fueling the rise, as well. The sophomore said he's driven by the chants that poke fun at his famous situation, even if they do underscore some of his insecurities.
"It's like, I've heard it all. There isn't anything else anyone can say," Brown told the Plain Dealer. "Actually, I use it as a motivator. I love it any time people are against me and our team. But, I know it's all talk. It doesn't hurt me. People are going to say whatever they want. It adds fuel to my fire. And it makes our team play above the level of our competition.
"At first, it was very tough. I was never worried that my dad wouldn't get another job because he had great success here. My fear was that he would get hired right away and we would have to leave town, and I don't want to leave. I love it here. And my dad has always said he would try his best to keep us here, whatever it takes, as long as I do my part. But, I really try not to think about it."
Whether or not Brown gets to finish his scholastic career at St. Edward remains to be seen. If he does, the odds are that the chants will continue whenever he and his teammates are on the road.
His coach, for one, said he had no problem with that.
"He has become very mature," St. Edward coach Eric Flannery told the Plain Dealer. "He has a presence about him. Given his circumstance, he handles himself very well. He is the only one who knows what he hears. But I hear it, and I have to say he handles himself very well, extremely well.
"What helps is that Elijah sees Mike only as his dad, not as a coach, and that's as far as he takes it. That's a sign of maturity."