Kwame James Brown is a professional American basketball player who plays as a center. Brown was considered as the best high school player in his class amongst players like Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. Brown graduated from high school with the school record for rebounds, with 1,235. While being named to the 2001 McDonald’s All-American team, Brown finished as an all-time second highest scorer for his school.
Brown was meant to play for the University of Florida, however, decided to declare for the 2001 NBA Draft and in the draft, the Washington Wizards created history by picking Brown as the first pick. Brown, thus, became the first ever high school prospect to be picked at first overall, in the NBA Draft. His pick was hyped further by the fact that the greatest ever basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, who was then the president of the Wizards, personally chose him.
However, the hype and publicity probably led to Brown grossly underperforming in his first year. Averaging just 4.5 points with 3.5 rebounds, Brown received a lot of critics from the media as well as from Jordan and was soon predicted to be a draft bust.
However, the Wizards decided to persist with Brown’s ability and handed him more playing time in the second season where, playing 80 games in the regular season, Brown started 20 and almost doubled his playing time as well as most of the stats. He was shooting at 7.4 points, grabbing 5.3 rebounds per game. The improvement continued in the third season as well with 10.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds.
Brown ran into some controversy at the end of his three-year contract with the Wizards. Rejecting an extension offered to him for 5-years and $30 million, Brown decided to become a free agent. However, when not picked by any team, he returned to Washington and played just 42 games, more due to injury layoffs than bad-blood. Averaging just 7.0 points per game, Brown ran into a feud of sorts with team mates including Gilbert Arenas and even coach, Eddie Jordan. With bad publicity, he became less popular with teammates and fans.
In the 2005 playoffs, the Wizards were up against the Chicago Bulls and before their first game, the Wizards showed a video to the fans where Arenas asked the fans not to taunt and boo Brown. Brown played four minutes in the game and the fans stayed quiet. However, things went from bad to worse despite the show of solidarity by the Wizards. Over the next few days, Brown went missing from practice and a shoot-around while also skipping the second game of the series.
Brown returned to the MCI center in Washington when the Lakers were on the road, in December 2005, and every entrance into the game as well as touch on the ball was greeted with jeers from the fans. A pass from Sasa Vujacic hit Brown on the head and bounced away out of bounds, when the player wasn’t looking at the ball. This brought out huge cheers from the fans. At the end of game, Brown said that the fans should have been happy that he was gone and not given him such a “weak” reception.
Chris Mihm’s 2005-06 season ended early after he had an ankle injury that kept him out. This made Brown the starting center for the Lakers and he grabbed this opportunity. Averaging at 6.1 points per game with 6.3 rebounds until that point of the season, Brown took his scoring up to 12.3 points and grabbed 9.1 rebounds per game while playing each game for the Lakers in the playoffs. Despite losing to the Phoenix Suns in a 7-game series, Brown was beginning to come out of his immature tag and was consistent enough to become the starting center for the 2006-07 season under coach Phil Jackson.
An unmotivated Brown was traded out along with Javaris Crittenton and Aaron McKie to the Memphis Grizzlies. Pau Gasol came to the Lakers and the deal was considered to be majorly tilted towards the Lakers who not only got rid of some poor players, but got an incredible one in exchange. The Lakers had a late surge towards the playoffs while the Grizzlies struggled with their bunch. At the end of the season, Brown’s contract wasn’t renewed by the Grizzlies and as a free agent, the Detroit Pistons picked him up on a 2-year $8 million deal.