October 07, 2011
For a bust of a first-overall pick, journeyman center Kwame Brown(notes) has had a fairly lengthy NBA career. While Brown has never sniffed the stardom the Wizards expected from him in 2001, he's still spent an uninterrupted decade in the league as a post defender.
Nevertheless, Kwame remains a source of ridicule, and not without reason. No matter what he does, Brown always seems to be holding something back, whether in terms of not playing his hardest or simply not having the capacity for professional-level effort. Sometimes it seems like he'd rather not even get the ball when he's on the court.
Oddly enough, that has been the case at least once in his career. At a recent press conference at UC Santa Barbara, Kwame's former Laker teammate Kobe Bryant(notes) told a bizarre story about Brown's fear of failure. You can watch the video above (via TBJ), which Michael Lee transcribed for his blog at The Washington Post:
"But like, the game before we traded for Pau, were playing Detroit and I had like 40 points towards the end of the game. This is back when Detroit had Rasheed [Wallace], Chauncey [Billups] and those guys, so we had no business being in the game. So down the stretch of the game, they put in a box and one. So I'm surrounded by these players, Detroit players, and Kwame is under the basket, all by himself. Literally, like all by himself. So I pass him the ball, he bobbled it and it goes out of bounds.
"So we go back to the timeout and I'm [upset], right? He goes, 'I was wide open.' 'Yeah, I know.' This is how I'm talking to him, like, during the game. I said, 'You're going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.' He said, 'Well, if I'm open don't throw it to me.' I was like, 'Huh?' He said, 'Don't throw it to me.' I said, 'Why not?' He said, well, 'I'm nervous. If I catch it and they foul me, I won't make the free throws.' I said, 'Hell no!'
"I go to Phil [Jackson], I say, 'Hey Phil, take him out of the game.' He's like, 'Nah, let him figure it out.' So, we lose the game, I go the locker room, I'm steaming. Steaming. I'm furious. Then, finally I get a call, they said, 'You know what, we got something that's happening with Pau.' I was like, 'Alright. Cool.'…That's what I had to deal with the whole year."
While it may not be much of a shock, this tale boils down Kwame to his essence about as well as possible. In a close game, against a good team, he not only doesn't want the ball, but actively argues that he should not get it. If that's not the mark of a bust, I don't know what is.
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