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David
08-19-2002, 05:12 PM
Saturday, August 17, 2002
Updated: August 19, 12:22 PM ET
Kwame still playing catchup
By by Ric Bucher

HONOLULU -- While Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry sat out the final day of Pete Newell's Big Man Camp, Kwame Brown was on the floor, going through every drill, backing down Blazers center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje with authority. It won't dismiss the sentiment born last season that Brown has a bad work ethic and no post game, or that the Wizards would have been better off drafting someone else with the No. 1 pick.

[Kwame Brown]
Wizards forward Kwame Brown is still at his best facing the basket.
But it's a start.

"Fans have expectations when they hear someone's the No. 1 pick," Brown said. "It's like somebody telling me about Hawaii or seeing it on TV. When I got here, it's not like everybody said it was."

Same goes for Brown, at least based on his work under Newell. While he still steadfastly refuses to lift weights -- "I'm country strong," he joked on the bus back to the hotel -- he was clearly committed to improving his game during the week-long camp that focusses on footwork and offensive fundamentals in one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three drills.

"I really liked what he did the last day," said Wizards assistant general manager Rod Higgins, who attended the camp to watch the progress of four Wizards' post players -- Brown, Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas and Bobby Simmons . "He was aggressive in the post and yet he took his time. He's usually in such a rush he doesn't give the defense a chance to react."

Brown is trying to make up lost time. While the return of Michael Jordan did wonders for the box office and allowed the Wizards to dream of a playoff berth for several months, the shaping of the team to accommodate MJ and a win-now approach put Brown in an impossible situation for his level of experience. The offense was designed to get shots for MJ and Rip Hamilton , meaning the post players had to know how to space the floor or post up and kick it out. Their meager talent and experience made for a thin margin of error. Mistakes couldn't be tolerated. Plays for a rookie couldn't be run, especially one who was most effective facing the basket.

"If Kwame made a mistake, he knew he was coming out," said Haywood, a fellow rookie but four-year player at North Carolina. "If he made two mistakes, he might not get in the game again."

Brown's shortcomings drew national attention, thanks to Jordan's presence. Criticism about his work habits from both His Airness and coach Doug Collins cast Brown as the No. 1 pick who was letting down the most revered player in basketball history. Chandler and Curry, meanwhile, were cruising along with the rest of the Bulls beneath the public radar and had each other's support.

"That helped them a lot," Brown said. "They could feed off each other and they didn't have a lot of pressure."

Brown's stats -- 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds a game -- were the worst of the three, but his per-minute production was nearly identical with Chandler's. The two matched up several times in camp drills and while Brown was bothered by Chandler's length, his skills and moves were clearly more developed. Camp instructors, in an informal poll, unanimously said that Curry would be their first choice if selecting among the three, but credit that largely to Curry's physical gifts. At 6-foot-11 and 285 pounds with monstrous, soft hands and nimble feet, Curry has the potential to be the Eastern Conference's most dominant big man some day.

Size is why Brown still could struggle until Jordan retires again. He was placed in a group with mostly undersized power forwards and consistently matched up with the lightest of them, Mike Dunleavy Jr. or Chandler. Higgins expects him to battle Thomas for the starting power-forward honors. Judging by the way Thomas posted up Brown the few times they faced each other, the competition doesn't bode well for Brown. His post-up game showed dramatic improvement, but his strength remains facing up and driving. There will be little room for that unless the Wizards' game plan changes dramatically.

Although Collins suggested Brown's summer-league groin injury once again indicated he wasn't in shape, Brown expects he'll be treated differently this season. "I don't think Doug will be like that again," he said. "I think there's going to be a larger margin of error."

If nothing else, Brown has helped this year's rookie forward, Jared Jeffries . The Wizards plan to bring Jeffries along slowly, hoping his confidence isn't shaken the way Brown's was. Brown, meanwhile, keeps in mind that Tracy McGrady was accused of being lazy early in his career and Kevin Garnett is still being criticized for not having an effective post game.

"My very first day with the Wizards I was shown an inside pivot," Brown said. "I didn't even know what that was. No high school player can be ready for what we face. We've never been challenged. But I'll get there. I'm learning a lot."

AND ONES: Nothing is official, but expect Michael Jordan to play again this season. He's going light on his workouts, a source said, because he believes last summer's intensive training to get in shape prompted him to break down last season ... Mike Dunleavy Jr. banged knees with Tayshaun Prince and left midway through the final workout but the injury is not considered serious. Before the injury, Dunleavy Jr. made the biggest impression with his passing and his ball-hawking, at one point snatching the ball from Prince's grasp before he could start his move ... Nuggets rookie Nene Hilario sat out the final two days of the camp with a strained groin and is headed to Denver for treatment, putting into question his availability for Brazil's World Championships squad ... The Timberwolves made a qualifying offer on Friday of six years, $35 million to Ricky Davis ... Pete Newell sounded skeptical about continuing the pro division of his Big Man Camp after a banquet celebrating the camp's 25th anniversary and his 87th birthday. The NBA wants to prohibit team personnel from participating for fear of tampering or some sort of competitive advantage being gained. Their concerns would be allayed by a single visit to the camp, but to date, no NBA official ever has attended. One compromise that will be presented to assistant commissioner Russ Granik is to allow personnel below the head coach and GM level to serve as instructors. That would eliminate Big Man veterans such as Pistons coach Rick Carlisle and Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe, but several new instructors were brought in this year to groom them in case the proposal is accepted. Former NBA players Frank Brickowski, Jeff Lamp and Alton Lister, along with Pistons assistant and former Laker Tony Brown, were among the first-year instructors.

Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at ric.bucher@espnmag.com.

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The Crippler
08-19-2002, 07:59 PM
I just don't think Kwame is going to make it. A little too soft in the mind. Too nice. Before HSers started to make the immeadiate transition to the NBA and skipping college alltogether, there were a lot of kids like him that were supposed to have "superstar" talent when they were recruited, but then flamed out when they entered school. He might have been one of those kids. I definitely wouldn't have made them the first pick in the draft.

I hope he does make it though, b/c he does seem to be a good guy.

Rhylan
08-19-2002, 08:24 PM
I still can't get over how he "didn't know how to take his suits to the cleaner's."

"Hi, can you clean these suits for me? Thanks. Bye."

..or how he "didn't know how to buy groceries."

"Hmmm... I like sandwiches. Ham + bread + mustard = sandwich. I guess I better get some ham, some bread, and some mustard."

Okay, so maybe he's just like one of those goofy guys we all had in our freshman dorm that never showered, never washed his clothes, always ate pizza. I just couldn't get over the "boo hoo poor Kwame" article that said all that stuff. So he was just an out-of-it kid. Nobody's fault but his, if you're 19 and too lazy to buy groceries.

Kat
08-19-2002, 10:56 PM
<< [i]I still can't get over how he &quot;didn't know how to take his suits to the cleaner's.&quot;

&quot;Hi, can you clean these suits for me? Thanks. Bye.&quot;

..or how he &quot;didn't know how to buy groceries.&quot;

&quot;Hmmm... I like sandwiches. Ham + bread + mustard = sandwich. I guess I better get some ham, some bread, and some mustard.&quot;

Okay, so maybe he's just like one of those goofy guys we all had in our freshman dorm that never showered, never washed his clothes, always ate pizza. I just couldn't get over the &quot;boo hoo poor Kwame&quot; article that said all that stuff. So he was just an out-of-it kid. Nobody's fault but his, if you're 19 and too lazy to buy groceries.Q]

Welcome to America! Land of opportunity! I just watched in amazement as my company put (i call him) Jethro in charge of a multimillion$$ company and Jethro refused to use valet parking and walk a mile with his luggage because he didn't know how &quot;valet parking&quot; worked.

So, at this point, I have just learned to shake my head, when I used to be amazed to wonder why people couldn't figure out how to buy a loaf of bread and peanut butter, jelly and not make a sandwich. ANd those people make 10 times the $$$ I do, hummmmm.

The Crippler
08-20-2002, 11:24 AM
<<

<< [i]&quot;Hmmm... I like sandwiches. Ham + bread + mustard = sandwich. I guess I better get some ham, some bread, and some mustard.&quot;

<< [i] >>




This statement really made me laugh. Good stuff.

The Crippler
08-20-2002, 11:27 AM
how do I get sentence above out of quotes?

Usually Lurkin
08-20-2002, 11:50 AM
<< how do I get sentence above out of quotes? >>



Crippler, it looks like your quote is missing an endtag. There should be a bracket-slash-q-closebracket [ / q ] (without spaces) after your quote. Does that help?

actually, it looks like you have 3 opening quotes, and only one closing quote.