- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Kwame Brown quit on the Wizards after Game 3 of their first-round playoff series with the Bulls.

He quit on his teammates like a mange-ridden, flea-infested dog. He quit on them after playing a season-low four minutes in Game 3.

He skipped a subsequent practice session, at least one meeting that specifically was called to address his issues, a shoot-around on the day of Game 4 and then the game itself.

A so-called “stomach virus” was trotted out to explain his absence in Game 4 before the team elected not to cover for the malcontent any longer and suspended him for the duration of the playoffs yesterday.

Brown has a virus, all right. He has a virus of the head, along with an inflated sense of his abilities after four seasons in the NBA. He thinks he is better than he is.

But we knew this already. And we knew he was mentally fragile.

He never has taken responsibility — at least not publicly — for where he is at this point in his development. He used to point to the tag team of Doug Collins and Michael Jordan as the cause of his problems. They were mean to him, you see. They called him nasty names. They questioned his manhood.

Before the season, in an interview with The Washington Post, he shifted to the race card in an act of absurd desperation.

But this is the Brown we have come to know. His stunted progress is everyone’s fault but his own, and now it is the fault of Ernie Grunfeld, Eddie Jordan, Tony Cheng, Peter Angelos, Bud Selig, George Bush, the neighbor down the street and anyone else who happens to be convenient.

Brown’s power to delude is infinite, and this is the principal cause of his irrelevance.

He does not want the responsibility of greatness, as Gilbert Arenas does. All too often Brown does not even want the ball. All too often he will pass up a 2-footer.

Arenas reveals the depth of his character and commitment more in the bad times than the good. He slipped into a funk in Game1 and claimed it as his. He even joked about his high number of off-balanced field goal attempts.

Arenas missed a bunch of free throw attempts down the stretch of a tight game in Orlando this season that cost the Wizards dearly. Arenas did not run from the burden. He stood up and said, “That loss is on me.”

That is what the best of the best learn to do in the NBA. They learn to accept the percentages of the game. They learn it is impossible to be great in all 82 games of the regular season and then the playoffs. The great ones learn to compartmentalize their bad nights before returning to the gym to sharpen this or that skill.

But Brown does not have that fight in him.

When the going gets tough, he comes down with a “stomach virus.”

On the night of the franchise’s biggest victory in 17 years, Brown was the one cloud against an otherwise star-filled backdrop.

He should have been on the bench urging his teammates to victory instead of sulking in the fetal position in his home. He should have held himself accountable instead of putting coach Eddie Jordan in the ludicrous position of addressing an unnecessary subject.

Brown also should realize that his weak-kneed performances late in the season at home hardly inspired much confidence in the coaching staff of the Wizards.

In Brown’s world, those batch of anemic efforts are not his fault either. They are the fault of the home crowd that came to boo the disappointing No. 1 pick overall of the 2001 NBA Draft.

If the 23-year-old Brown had a vague clue, he would seek out the team’s beat reporters and let it be known that he wants to make this thing work here, that if he ever becomes an All-Star, it will be in the uniform of the Wizards.

Perhaps it is too late for that, what with Brown causing so much resentment in the locker room because of his self-absorbed whining.

Brown obviously has no understanding of how this stunning act of petulance will play around the NBA. His contract is up after the season, and this unthinkable development is going to damage his bargaining position severely.

Brown may have a million-dollar body. But for now, a 10-cent head is attached to it.

For the first time ever, Brown should peer deep inside himself and be honest.

He is not fooling anyone, that is certain. He is not fooling his teammates, coaches, the media and the team’s supporters.

And he is dead wrong if he thinks running to another city will vanquish the demons and immaturity that dog him.

He will learn that what undermines him is stored inside him.

Try as he might, Brown will find that he cannot run from himself.

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