To get to the other side. A newspaper. Kwame Brown.
And there you have them, three of the all-time biggest punchlines.
You can laugh some more about Brown if you want to, about his consensus “bust” status in 2001 as Michael Jordan‘s No. 1 overall pick in Jordan’s first go-around as an NBA executive and about the fact that he just hooked up with his seventh NBA team in 13 years.
Then again, Brown has lasted 13 years, longer than other notorious draft busts such as LaRue Martin, Pervis Ellison, Michael Olowokandi, Joe Barry Carroll and, alas, Greg Oden. He has amassed more than $58 million in NBA earnings in that time, not merely off some outrageous pre-rookie scale deal but in salaries of $4 million, $7 million, $9 million as team after team tried to tap his full potential.
Laugh, too, at this: Brown just got himself another $6 million over the next two seasons, agreeing to a two-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. The second year is a player option, a further reminder of how marketable it is to stand 6-foot-11, weigh 270 pounds and not trip over one’s own feet.
How much coin did you secure for yourself today? So who’s laughing last?
The move to Philadelphia provides further evidence that, while Brown never performed at anything close to a star’s level and therefore was a bad pick at No. 1, he has been and is a serviceable fill-in center. Maybe that is his potential. His career numbers are adequate – 11.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.0 block per 36 minutes played, with a 12.6 PER – and his paycheck now of $3 million is below average, especially for centers. C’mon, it’s not like this guy is Darko Milicic (cue laugh track).
At age 30, he would seem to have a lot of useful life left, if he can get onto the court and stay there – Brown has participated in just 260 of 476 possible games over the past two seasons. In 2011-12, he got hurt with Golden State, then was traded in March to Milwaukee, for whom he never played; he averaged 6.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 20.8 minutes in nine appearances with the Warriors.
The biggest concern facing Brown, besides injury issues and bad jokes, is a return to Doug Collins, the Sixers coach who had him in Washington in Brown’s first two NBA seasons. Collins might get as frustrated now as he did then with Brown, especially on defense, and he has one of the league’s busier doghouses.