Michael “Mike” Brown is from Newark, New Jersey. A durable 6-foot-9 power forward/center, he played at George Washington University in the early 1980s, where he received the nickname “The New Washington Monument.” Brown was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the third round of the 1985 NBA Draft. He played 11 seasons (1986-1997) in the NBA as a member of the Bulls, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, and Phoenix Suns. Brown also played professionally overseas. For the 2007-08 season, the Chicago Bulls employed Brown as an assistant coach. Brown recently visited with Jitim Young, a former All-BigTen basketball player out of Northwestern University who now works for the NBRPA.
Q: You graudated from George Washington University in the early 1980s during an era where a lot of great big men in the NBA … Who were the toughest big men you played with and against in the NBA?
Mike Brown: Patrick Ewing.. I played against Ewing all four years in college – even during the summer. In the NBA, playing against [Michael] Jordan in practice with the Chicago Bulls, his drive and competitiveness were great. Jordan and [Scottie] Pippen had strong work ethics. In Utah [John] Stockton and [Karl] Malone were great to play with. Malone’s work ethic off the court was the best I have ever seen. His ability to stay in shape was unparallel to anyone in the BNA. Playing with those guys helped my longevity in the league. The toughest person to play against was Hakeem Olajuwon. Patrick Ewing gave you the physical, David Robinson gave you finesse … Hakeem had the combination of both. Hakeem “The Dream” wasn’t really a “Dream,” he was a nightmare.
Q: Mike, you have been fortunate to play high major college basketball, NBA, and overseas … how have all those experiences and seeing different cultures impacted your life?
Mike Brown: [Basketball] changed my life, gave me a chance to learn two languages – Italian and Spanish. I got a chance – coming from Newark, NJ – to travel the world because of basketball. I got to see things that I saw in history books: Sistine Chapel, Eifel Tower, Roman Coliseum, The Great Wall of China … I got to walk those grounds. I couldn’t write a script any better. I met my wife over in Barcelona, Spain. My favorite places were Spain and Italy, just off the fact I got to see things I read in history books. However, I was a fan of Bruce Lee growing up, so being in China was exciting to me, as well as seeing Hong Kong.
Q: What is the most memorable season you had in the NBA?
Mike Brown: I would have to say my first year. Being drafted by Chicago actually made my dream a reality. We were a young team and really close, only one guy was married for the Bulls at the time. We did a lot of hanging out with each other at home and on the road.
Q: You were nicknamed “The New Washington Monument.” Where did that come from?
Mike Brown: Happened in College … [The universitt] took a picture of me leaning against the Washington Monument for the media guide and it was named Press Guide of the Year. It just stuck being named the “New Washington Monument,” being down in D.C. When I got to the NBA, in Utah with the Jazz, a fan came up with the name “the Brown Bear.”
Q: You are now a member of the NBRPA. How has it been for you being a part of the organization? How is it helping you?
Mike Brown: It’s been great and I’ve really enjoyed the events that are put on. The Lgends World Sports Conference they have every year, informing and exposing guys to information to help their second career and being able to make that transition has been really helpful. The organization is growing and I would love to see more, especially on the playing side, with some of the retired players doing a tour and gaining exposure. It has helped me reconnecting with guys, to see what they are doing because when you lose that connection with the guys and their success after basketball, sometimes you can have events that overlap one another and we want to support each other. The Legends of Basketball has allowed that reconnection.
Q: You have a bowing event on July 13, 2012 in Las Vegas. Can you talk about it? What is it for?
Mike Brown: The Embracing Project (theembracingproject.org) is the name of the organization my wife and I set up to deal with troubled youth in Las Vegas. We teach them a classroom session with our curriculum; give them outside services and whoever does well in our program we take over to Liberia, West Africa every year. The bowling event is a fundraiser because we are a non-profit to raise money for our trips to Africa. We are going over to Africa August 2-11. We work with children over there in Liberia who were former soldiers. The Embracing Project services the youth here in Las Vegas and those less fortunate than us in Liberia.
To participate in the bowling event, or to learn more about the Embracing Project, please visit www.TheEmbracingProject.org.