Today marks the beginning of a three-part interview with Jacksonville University Hall of Famer Dee Brown. Today we focus on his career with the Dolphins. Check back next Friday for part two as he talks about aspects of his NBA career, and in two weeks for part three as he discusses his transition into the coaching profession.
In case you were wondering, Dee Brown can still dunk
. After a stellar four-year career with Jacksonville University in which he scored more than 1,500 career points, Brown put together a 12-year career in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. In 1991, in one of the defining images of the All-Star Weekend, it’s that shot of Brown in mid-air, right arm covering his eyes with his left arm raised high above the rim
, which lives on in the minds of basketball fans everywhere. In July, Brown accepted an assistant coaching position with the Sacramento Kings and is about to begin training camp with the team for the upcoming 2013-14 NBA season.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For those of you who don’t know, the Jacksonville University Hall of Famer was a first-round draft pick (19th overall) of the Boston Celtics in 1990. Before his professional career, Brown was an offensive force with the Dolphins, averaging over 19 points per game in both his junior and senior seasons. Stepping seamlessly into a Celtic squad that still carried title aspirations with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish on the roster, he played in all 82 games, providing a jolt of energy off the bench to the team’s aging core.
As nagging injuries eventually ended the careers of those NBA legends, Brown filled a bigger role with the team. Though limited by injuries in his second season, he became a part-time starter and averaged 11.7 points per game as Boston secured the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for the second straight season. In the following years, his presence with the team grew even more. In 1993-94, he averaged 15.5 points per game to lead the Celtics in scoring. A year later, he compiled a career-best 15.6 points per game average, taking Boston back to the playoffs after a season away. By the time he retired in 2002, Brown had played in more than 600 career regular season games and averaged over 11 points per game in that time.
His time spent in the league as a young role player, emerging team star and veteran influence made Brown a natural candidate to get into the coaching profession. After retiring with the Orlando Magic, he stayed in the city and coached the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle in 2002. He then moved back to the Magic as Director of Player Development in 2003. His next stop came in 2004 as head coach of the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Following a break from the professional side of basketball – a time in which he was inducted into the JU Hall of Fame in 2008 – Brown returned in 2009-10 to coach the Springfield Armor of the NBDL. After two seasons in the NBA’s developmental league, he joined the staff of the Detroit Pistons under Head Coach Lawrence Frank as an assistant.
Two months ago, Brown was named Assistant Coach for Player Development
with the Sacramento Kings. He’ll be working to groom a young team in the tough Western Conference that includes players such as DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmer Fredette, Greivis Vasquez and rookie first-round pick Ben McLemore. The Kings will be in the area this season in December, playing at Atlanta on Dec. 18, at Miami on Dec. 20, and at Orlando on Dec. 21.
You are a native of Jacksonville, graduating from The Bolles School. When you were coming out of high school, what sold you on coming here to JU?
Staying close to home was one big factor. I wasn’t really a highly-recruited kid coming out of Bolles. I was one of the best players in the state, but coming out of a small school I didn’t get all the attention some other players from bigger schools did. By late in my senior year, I was getting some attention from bigger schools in the area, but I was pretty committed to staying here.
I remember coming here and watching guys like Maurice Roulhac, Steve Tutson and Otis Smith. I grew up with Otis’ younger brother so I had a relationship with him going back. And JU had just made the NCAA Tournament the year before I committed, so the team was starting to make its mark as an up-and-coming school, not just in Florida, but in the South.
So you had visited campus and seen games here growing up?
Yeah, I went to games at Swisher when I was younger. This was back before the Jaguars were in town, so you really had the Jacksonville Suns and the JU basketball team as the two big sporting events. As a basketball fan, you wanted to come see a special group of guys playing at a high level, so I always knew what was going on with the Dolphins.
In the era we’re in now with conference realignment, leagues are always changing. Back when you played at Jacksonville the team was in the Sun Belt, which stretched from Florida and Alabama and went north into Kentucky and Virginia. Who do you remember as your fiercest rivals during that time?
We had a bunch of schools that we had rivalries with back then. The first ones that come to mind are Old Dominion, UNC-Charlotte, VCU and South Alabama. All those schools had good guards and it was a very guard-dominated league. You had five or six guys in that time that had a chance to get drafted or get an invite to training camp with an NBA team when they graduated. You look at these schools now and they’re off in different leagues and they’re big players in those leagues. But back then, I thought the group of schools that we had in the Sun Belt made it very competitive top-to-bottom. That’s what made the league great.
During your senior season, Jacksonville hosted a tournament and played the championship game against that famous Loyola Marymount team just a few months before Hank Gathers passed away. LMU ended up winning it, 106-105. Do you remember much about that particular game?
That was the Marymount team that went up and down the court with Gathers and Bo Kimble, two guys that were in my draft class. What I do remember is not so much the game, but the time I got to spend with Hank afterwards. We got a chance to go out to dinner and hang out and talk, and just talk about the chances that we had to get drafted and play in the NBA. Obviously a couple months later the tragedy happened with him on the court.
The game itself I remember just because the tempo was so fast and I think three or four guys ended up with 30 points. It was the type of game that every college player would love to play in, and you play enough of those games and for one thing, you’re in great shape; and two, you’ll probably be leading the country in scoring like Hank and Bo were at that time.
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