Friday, January 2, 2004

The hands of Kwame Brown are shrinking by the season, fading from small to smaller.

At this pace, he will be down to nubs before his 22nd birthday.

The stagnation of Brown is believed to be connected to what is left of his hands.

At least that is one of the fashionable theories wafting above the den of ineptitude in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood.

Brown is blessed with the body of a Greek God but cursed with the hands of Mini-Me.

Michael Jordan might have noted this feature with a handshake, assuming Jordan was not holding a golf club in one hand and a cell phone in the other the first time he met with Brown before the 2001 draft.

The growing obsession with Brown’s hands goes with a team that is hurtling toward the ground without the parachute of Jerry Stackhouse and a whole Gilbert Arenas.

Given the options, the subject of hands is preferable to the splat of a team.

Brown is running out of fall guys, if not time to persuade the telephonic line of sufferers who vent in Scott Jackson’s confessional after each game. Brown already has been traded several hundred times this season, although not once by Ernie Grunfeld.

The talk of a trade is an unintentional compliment to Brown, as it grants interest in a player whose hands cause squinting in otherwise strong eyes.

Brown misses dunks with the worst, especially if he tries to convert the shot with one of his itty-bitty hands.

His teammates are advised to make the sign of the cross before making an entry pass in his direction.

His are not the hands of stone that Jahidi White passed down to Brendan Haywood, the one-time Bobble Twins of Fun Street. His are the hands of a newborn, precious up close but hardly functional from a distance.

An anatomy class inevitably breaks out around Brown.

He has quick feet, sinewy layers of body mass and a nifty head band to catch the occasional bead of sweat that pops from his forehead.

As always, Brown’s heart remains under review. The suspicion persists that he takes chill pills by the barrel.

Brown is not a bad guy, just a guy with an ill-focused bent and a misguided belief in improving by osmosis.

Brown has been threatening to work out one of these summers, if only he can pry himself from the tempting night life of Brunswick, Ga.

Teams are made in the winter. Players are made in the summer.

That is one of the axioms of the NBA, imparted by both the old and new Jordan, possibly even Vernon as well.

They don’t give hotfoots in basketball, just in baseball, which is too bad. A benching after 19 games had only a momentary jolt on Brown: three consecutive games in double figures. Then he came down with the flu and endured another basketball relapse.

In case you missed it, Brown raised his slight hand in response to the Antonio Davis question in Chicago, one of many that went unanswered in the once-proud house built by the old Jordan. The bleating is being taken as a sign of life, limited as it is.

Brown garnered a certain sympathy in the vicinity of the old Jordan and Doug Collins, tough-love practitioners who never met an ear they could not turn to cauliflower. They are no longer around to clutter the head of a neophyte who resists authority on immature principle.

It is all on Brown the rest of the way. His last refuge is a birth certificate and the simple truth that he would be a junior at Florida this season.

He still has time to develop into a multiple All-Star, even if that time is being challenged and the keeper of it is not committed to the person the way his predecessor was.

The old Jordan staked his new beginning to Brown. Grunfeld has no such investment in Brown, small hands and all.

The jaw-dropping goings-on in Cleveland should be instructional to the laid-back one in Washington.

LeBron James, the second high school player to be the No.1 pick overall of an NBA Draft, is bursting with conviction, impatient to succeed.

Brown, the first of this kind, is at ease with the eye-glazing patience around him.

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