- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2001

Kwame Brown is coming to the big city with a wad of Benjamins stuffed in his hand.

Brown is certain to make a lot of new best friends as he tries to acclimate himself to his new surroundings in the months ahead. That is only part of the potential problem of someone so young, so wealthy, so inexperienced in the ways of the world.

He is a mere 19 years old, just out of Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga., which is a long way from the temptations found in the city along the Potomac River.

Players older than Brown routinely have succumbed to those temptations, which is why the franchise with two broken ribs was in a position to make history in the NBA Draft last night.

Brown became the first player out of high school to be taken No. 1 overall in the draft. As if to demonstrate it was no fluke, the Clippers, with the No. 2 pick, selected Tyson Chandler, another player who just received his high school diploma, before dispatching him to the Bulls.

Brown is certain to make a lot of new best friends as he tries to acclimate himself to his new surroundings in the months ahead. That is only part of the potential problem of someone so young, so wealthy, so inexperienced in the ways of the world.

Brown might want to avoid the woman from Connecticut, who made the acquaintance of Chris Webber and Juwan Howard and elected to make a legal case out of it. He also might want to avoid Rod Strickland's favorite nightclubs around the city.

Brown is not old enough to enter those nightclubs, but as the Bush daughters show, a tiny legal issue doesn't necessarily dissuade the youth of America from trying to be enterprising.

Brown is not going to win many games

for the franchise with two broken ribs next season, or even the season after that. His learning curve is expected to be about three years, long after Michael Jordan has made his comeback and accepted life as a minority owner and front-office executive.

Doug Collins probably will be gone by then, if his shelf life with the Bulls and Pistons is any indication. Brown is the future of the franchise with two broken ribs, and unfortunately, that future doesn't really begin until Dennis Rodman is employed with the team and has played his last NBA game in the nude, as promised.

"We don't know what this kid is capable of doing, of how well he can progress," Jordan said. "When do we expect dividends from him? We don't know."

In the long term, Jordan is betting his reputation as a personnel guru on Brown developing into a dominant player. As much as the NBA sometimes hates to admit it, the prep-to-pro jump has been a relative success.

If anyone thinks Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett or Tracy McGrady made a bad decision, raise your hand. Even the less celebrated youngsters, Jonathan Bender and Rashard Lewis, have made the transition to the NBA in a reasonable fashion.

DeShawn Stevenson looms as the warning of the moment around the NBA, but nowhere is it shown that college life eliminates the foibles of youth.

The franchise with two broken ribs is a testament to that. All its legal headaches over the years were perpetrated by those with a college background.

Jordan sounded ever protective of his newly tabbed prodigy. It just might behoove Jordan to be a father figure, to prod, love and scold the newcomer in fair proportions.

"We feel like we've gotten a quality kid," Jordan said. "It's up to us to nurture that. Teammates are going to have to support this kid. We may have to look into a mentoring program for him."

Brown encouraged Jordan and Collins to draft him after going through one last workout for them Monday.

Brown told the two, "I promise if you draft me, you won't regret it."

Brown is the start of what promises to be an active summer for the franchise with two broken ribs.

"I've said before, when you have 19 wins, you have holes," Collins said.

They have 19 wins, lots of holes to fill and two broken ribs.

To look at it another way, their best player has not played in three seasons, and he is the one with the two broken ribs.

In drafting hurt, Jordan pushed through the discomfort.

His time line for a decision has been pushed back to whenever.

Jordan is the short term. Brown is the long term.

"We felt [Brown] was the consensus best player out there," Collins said.

Let's hope so.

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