When Michael Jordan brought Kwame Brown into the fold last season there were a lot of people that thought His Airness was making a big mistake. Jordan screwed up back in 2001 when he made Brown the first No 1 pick straight out of high school. Was he trying to make up for the mistake by giving the kid—now an adult—a job?
Lately there have been a few stories in the news that talked about Kwame when he first entered the league. He was young; he was brash. He thought he was something special by being the first high school player taken at No 1.
The reality of the situation is that he was special. The problem is that he was still just a kid. A mistake that most people mistake is thinking that someone is an adult when they turn 18. They’re allowed to vote, they can buy cigarettes, they can die for their country; the fact of the matter is that age means little if there is not a maturity to match.
College freshman are all still kids. Many of them thrive when they head to school, but even more fall flat on their faces. Just being given the freedom of no parental supervision is too much for them.
Take one of those same 18 year old kids, give him more money than he has ever dreamed of having, and let him loose in the world. I read a story last week that Kwame used to buy a new suit whenever he needed one because he didn’t know how to get dry cleaning done.
Can anyone say recipe for a disaster?
Much of Kwame’s career has been just that. Now it didn’t help when Jordan would decide to completely school the kid and berate him. What he needed than was the mentor that he probably thought he was getting, but sadly did not.
Sure enough, that has affected him for his entire career. A story that Kobe Bryant recently told is a perfect example. Long story short, there was a game when Kwame was with the Lakers where Kobe passed him the ball when he was wide open under the basket. Kwame fumbled the pass and it went out of bounds.
Kobe tried talking to him during the time out. Kwame recognized that he was wide open, but told Kobe not to pass him the ball. He was afraid he’d get fouled and he’d miss the free throws.
Kwame Brown needed to go to college, not just for one year, but two or three (like most players should). Guys need time to mature as players as well as a person.
Last season he had one of the better seasons of his career logging 26 minutes a game in 66 games. He stepped up his rebound production, recording his highest average (6.8) since 2003-04 (7.4). His turnover average was up slightly (1.1 after averaging .9 the last three seasons), but he logged a more time last season than he did in all three previous ones. He more than doubled his point production from 2009-10 (7.9 last season; 3.3 previous season); the third highest in his career.
Kwame Brown is only 29. He is still young enough to have a solid career as a professional basketball player. What he could have been, we’ll never know, but it is nice to see that the league (and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan) has not given up on him.