For anyone out there still waiting for a verdict to come in on the No. 1 overall selection of the 2001 NBA Draft, Kobe Bryant may have finally put the issue to rest.
According to Bryant, Kwame Brown has been such a bust that even Kwame Brown thinks it can be a bad idea to pass him the ball.
It's not exactly breaking news when someone pans Brown as he's been ripped by Michael Jordan, Stephen A. Smith and likely every Wizards season ticket holder from 2001–05. Despite being, blessed with every physical attribute that one could want for a franchise center, Brown has floundered on teams from coast to coast.
Although his appraisal was not contrarian or unique, it was still interesting to hear Bryant -- as rumors are swirling about a potential move to Italy -- share an anecdote about Brown while speaking to a Psychology class at UC Santa Barbara. While taking questions from the class, one student asked Bryant about his lone MVP award in 2008, and in order to communicate how much pressure was placed on him to perform for the Lakers, the All-Star decided to deliver a story about Brown. Bryant recalled a game during that season against a stacked Detroit Pistons squad. As it had been through most of the season, the Lakers' offense was a one-man band with Bryant on every instrument. Bryant recalled that the Pistons went to a box and one defense to slow him down.
“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!’
Bryant recalled complaining to coach Phil Jackson, who displayed his "Zen Master" demeanor by allowing Brown to continue playing. Shortly after the game, Bryant learned the Lakers were negotiating to acquire Pau Gasol. It would seem that he hasn't missed playing with Brown.
Brown -- who also had an interesting relationship with another player considered one of the best of all time, Michael Jordan -- is a 10-year NBA veteran who has averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game through out his career. Given his reputation, those numbers may be surprising... surprisingly high.
As Brown, now with the Bobcats, has hardly done much to distinguish himself throughout his NBA career, we wouldn't be surprised if "Don't throw it to me!" becomes his lasting legacy.
For Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie this episode capsulizes everything about Brown's career: "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."
Interestingly, Kobe was also asked which current NBA player he would most like to play with and after briefly pondering said Carmelo Anthony. Now, there's a player who wouldn't shy away from the ball in a big spot.
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