Friday, February 1, 2008
What’s it like to meet one of athletes you looked up to as a child? I grew up in Vermont rooting for the Boston Celtics in the 1990s after the “big three” of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish retired and there wasn’t a lot to root for as the team struggled. Dee Brown was one of the only reasons to like the Celtics. He won the 1991 Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie when he famously pumped up his Reeboks before covering his eyes with his forearm and dunking the ball “no look”. He went on to play twelve seasons in the NBA with the Celtics, Raptors and Magic, averaging just over eleven points per game.
I had the distinct honor of introducing a bio of Dee to my classmates. I had a huge grin on my face, though I was definitely nervous (and I don’t get nervous). When I researched Dee to present the bio, I was extremely impressed with the diversity of his background: player, coach of two WNBA teams (Orlando Miracle and San Antonio Silver Stars), NBA front office experience with the Magic, on-air TV personality with ESPN after winning the show “Dream Job”, ESPN radio personality from 12-3 everyday, and owner/operator of Edge Training Facility.
As a lifetime Celtics fan and someone who people have called a “sports encyclopedia," I thought that I knew everything there was to know about Dee Brown... Boy was I wrong. Dee Brown stressed to us that basketball never defined who he was as a person; he was just gifted at it and used basketball as a tool to pursue all his other interests. Dee has two degrees from Jacksonville University in math and computer science. He owned several dot-com companies during the 90s and claims to be one of the first two NBA players (along with Spurs great David Robinson) to have the first monochrome, 15-pound Apple laptop in the '90s.
Dee also stressed the importance of having a value system above everything else. He spoke of an incident when he was in Boston for the first time after the NBA draft. Dee was tackled to the ground by police who suspected him of robbing a bank, despite the fact he was at the post office a block away. As Dee said, “What kind of dumb criminal goes to the post office across the street from the bank he just robbed?!” This was Dee Brown’s first impression of Boston, the city that would be his home for seven years. He could have been bitter, he could have sued, he could have blamed the world, but he didn’t because he didn’t believe it would help the situation. Instead Dee spun it positively and sought out the director of our program, Dr. Lapchick, who was at Northeastern University at the time. They have been great friends ever since.
It’s been a week since Dee Brown spoke to us and I still have that huge grin on my face. I thought that I knew everything there was to know about Dee Brown... Boy was I wrong.