Thursday, June 28
'Great beginning for this franchise'
WASHINGTON -- A beaming Michael Jordan welcomed Kwame Brown
to the Washington Wizards on Thursday, presenting the first
high-school No. 1 NBA draftee with a new jersey and encouraging
"This is a great beginning for this franchise and it starts
with him," said Jordan, the Wizards' president of basketball
operations. "I'm not putting any added pressure on him, but all I
ask him to be is be himself."
Brown is a 6-foot-11, 240-pound center from Glynn Academy in
Brunswick, Ga. He is 19, the youngest player ever taken with the
first overall pick.
At a news conference at MCI Center, Jordan presented Brown with
his jersey -- No. 5 -- the number worn by since-departed Juwan
There was a touch of irony in the moment, because Howard's
re-signing in 1996, along with the trade at the time for
forward-center Chris Webber, was trumpeted at the time as the new
beginning the team needed to get back to playoff-caliber
Howard was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in the midst of the
Wizards' poor 2000-2001 season, and Webber had been moved well
"I didn't know this number was going to work," Jordan
deadpanned, as TV crews recorded the moment.
Brown sees Jordan as a teacher, but that he isn't overwhelmed by
the reputation of his new boss.
"He's Michael Jordan -- I mean what can you say," Brown said.
"But he breathes the same air I breathe so I'm going to treat him
like a person."
When asked if he's dreamed about playing alongside Jordan, Brown
said, "My bigger dream is to beat him one day."
Amid the audience's laughter, Jordan quickly replied: "That is
"If he gets the chance of beating me, then I think he's
accomplished a lot," Jordan said. "What our jobs are is to teach
him the game of basketball so he can utilize his individuality to
become the best, complete basketball player he can be."
There has been rampant speculation that Jordan might return to
the hardwood -- conjecture he hasn't adamantly discouraged.
Wizards coach Doug Collins called Brown a "multidimensional
player" and said, "We don't want to say he's going to play this
kind of position. I want him to be a basketball player."
He called Brown "very unselfish" and said he "has the ability
as a bigger player to step out on the floor and create shots for
Collins said he will work on improving Brown's footwork.
"I want him to be a guy who can use his quickness," he said.
Brown originally planned to attend the University of Florida,
but changed his mind when he learned he might be chosen among the
top five in the NBA draft.
As a high school senior, he averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds a
game and was selected player of the year in the state of Georgia.
It's been 13 years since the Wizards won a playoff game. With
the team's 19-63 record last season, it could be a while before the
wait ends, and Jordan can afford to take Brown instead of someone
with college experience.
"It' not high school any more, it's a business now -- but I
think I can handle it," Brown said. "I just chased my dream and
now I'm here."
|Kwame Brown, left, and Michael Jordan hope to turn the Wizards into winners.|
Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
Team-by-team draft grades
Ramsay: Draft is dangerous business
Katz: Just like starting over for some
High school star goes first in NBA draft