- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

Kwame Brown has added Washington to the list of conspiratorial oppressors trying to keep a good 7-footer down.

The list includes Doug Collins, Michael Jordan, Eddie Jordan, the national press and now those in the nation’s capital.

“I just thank God I’m not in Washington,” Brown said in his initial press conference with the Lakers.

The feeling is mutual, although the boo-birds maintained a separation of church and basketball in his final season on Fun Street.

Brown never has grasped that the burden of being a professional basketball player is on him and that no one wanted to see him succeed more than the victory-starved throng feasting on Peking duck in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood.

The throng came to sense what NBA observers long have wondered, namely: Does Brown really love the game of basketball? Or is he just drawing a paycheck in the NBA only because someone in Brunswick, Ga., noticed he was tall for his age as a young teen and suggested he should pick up a basketball?

Let’s not forget that Ernie Grunfeld and Eddie Jordan gave Brown a big, fat mulligan before they ordered him to pack up his pacifier and rattle and go to his playpen.

None of this is to suggest Brown is a bad guy in the Isaiah Rider sense. He is a mama’s boy, is what he is, immature, spoiled and resistant to coaching, because coaching, by definition, is about critiquing, and Brown takes any kind of critiquing as highly personal.

This is why Brown dropped the F-bomb on Collins, turned his back on Eddie Jordan, was prepared to deliver a knuckle sandwich to Brendan Haywood and quit on the Wizards in the playoffs.

Brown could interpret the slightest admonishment as an affront to his human rights worthy of Amnesty International’s involvement.

Brown has conceded to Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers that he could have handled things better in Washington and that his lack of professionalism in the last of his four seasons stemmed mostly from a lack of playing time.

But that concession hardly should be taken as a sign of growth. We are, after all, only three months removed from his mysterious bug.

Brown’s newfound maturity won’t be tested until the Zen master is burning the midnight incense, Kobe Bryant is jacking up 30 shots a game and someone notices that Brown is out of position on defense. Again.

If Brown was not out of position in Washington, he would have had no position at all.

His anemic adventures around the basket became so predictable that jaws dropped and eyeballs fell out of their sockets after he completed an uncharacteristic play in Game 1 of the Wizards-Bulls playoff series.

After receiving the ball about 18 feet from the basket on the left side, Brown faked right, drove left and finished the sequence with a thundering dunk.

Stunned parties at courtside required massive hits from the oxygen tank to let the light-headedness pass.

That was hardly the Brown who would reduce so many to tears after blowing a layup that should have been rammed through the cylinder.

Brown just never developed a feel for the game. He would have an open 5-footer and pass the ball to a teammate with a 10-footer. He would be assigned to defend a particular player and take it literally, even if the player was standing 50 feet from the basket sipping on a sports drink. Brown would not know help defense if it pimp-slapped him.

All this is well and good if you are several months removed from high school. But at some point, you are obligated to stand on your own and not adopt the conspiratorial darkness of Oliver Stone, who no doubt could connect a typical mud slide in California to the man on the grassy knoll, the one-armed man and Halliburton.

As much as Washington and Brown are glad to be rid of each other — there was nowhere to go with this coupling — Washington at least has the good graces to wish him well.

Brown is still only 23 years old, still young enough to fashion a quality career.

Perhaps all he needs is to play with the Zen master’s pet rocks and commune with the spirit of Geronimo.



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