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Kwame James Brown (born March 10, 1982 in Charleston, South Carolina is a NBA player who plays power forward and center for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the first overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, and was the first #1 draft pick to be drafted straight out of high school.
Brown was one of the most spectacular high school players in his class. Brown finished his high school career at the historic Glynn Academy located in Brunswick, Georgia, as the school's all-time leading rebounder (1,235) and shot-blocker (605), and also finished second all-time as a scorer and he was named to the 2001 McDonald's All-American Team.
Originally signing a letter of intent to play for the University of Florida, he later declared for the 2001 NBA Draft. The Washington Wizards, under team president Michael Jordan, decided to use their first overall pick on him, becoming the first team to ever select a high-school prospect with the first overall pick. Additionally, the expectations upon Brown were increased by the fact that Jordan, acclaimed as the greatest basketball player ever, had chosen him. Following a pre-draft work with the Wizards, it has been reported that Brown told Jordan or then-Wizards coach Doug Collins "if you draft me, you'll never regret it".
Perhaps as a result of hype and high expectations, Brown's rookie season was marred with a lack of maturity as well as criticism from both the media and Jordan. In his rookie year, Brown averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game and was widely known as a draft bust.
However, the Wizards believed in Brown's potential. In his second season as a professional, Brown saw more action in the league. He started 20 out of the 80 games he played and the total minutes he played doubled. Unfortunately, Brown only improved slightly, posting averages of 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. In his third season, Brown continued to improve, posting career highs in both points (10.9) and rebounds (7.4). He also demonstrated his great potential during a game against the Sacramento Kings, during which he registered 30 points and 19 rebounds.
After his first three years in Washington, Brown's future with the Wizards appeared dubious, as he rejected a five-year, 30 million contract offer, electing instead to test the free-agent market when his contract expired after the season. In his fourth season, Brown took a noticeable step back in his development and was limited to 42 games due to injuries. His highest-scoring game of the season was only 19 points, compared to his season-high of 30 the year before, and he averaged just 7.0 points per game. Late in the season, criticism increased; he feuded with Gilbert Arenas, other teammates, and his coach Eddie Jordan. The local press did little to help the situation, and he became even less popular with fans.
During the first round of the 2005 playoffs, in which they played against the Chicago Bulls, the Wizards played a video before their first game of the series, in which Arenas instructed the fans not to boo Brown when he entered the game. The fans complied, even though Brown played only four minutes in the game. In the next several days after the game, Brown skipped a practice and a shootaround, as well as the next game, claiming that he thought he would punch Arenas if he entered the game. The Wizards responded by suspending Brown for the rest of the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers
On December 26, 2005, he played his first game at the MCI Center (now known as Verizon Center) as a member of the Lakers. The sold out crowd of 20,173 fans loudly booed him upon entering the game and whenever he touched the ball. In the 2nd quarter, Brown was looking the other way when teammate Sasha Vujacic threw a pass his way. The ball bounced off his head and landed out of bounds, which was met with loud cheers from the crowd. Brown called the reception "weak" and used the logic that "they should be cheering that I'm gone." The Wizards won the game 94-91.
Power Forward or Center?
When Lakers center Chris Mihm went down with a season-ending ankle injury on March 12, 2006, Brown took over the starting center position. During his stint as a center, he raised his averages from 6.1 points and 6.3 rebounds to 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds and started every game for the Lakers in the playoffs. The surprising consistency Brown showed while playing center prompted Phil Jackson to ponder giving Brown a starting center role in the 2006-2007 season (while possibly moving Mihm to power forward).
Brown was under a Los Angeles Police Department investigation of a rape allegation in 2006. A woman reported that Brown sexually assaulted her after Game 3 first round of the Western Conference Playoffs against the Phoenix Suns. He was cleared of all charges by the Los Angeles District Attorney's office on July 11, 2006.
On January 13, 2007, (according to police reports) a man accused Kwame Brown of throwing a cake at him. The man said that as he was carrying the 2x2 foot chocolate cake down the street in Hermosa Beach, California, he spotted Brown's Lakers teammate Ronny Turiaf, who agreed to pose for a photograph with him. The Lakers had been out celebrating Turiaf's birthday when Brown then arrived later on. He then picked up the cake and threw it at the man. The man offered no reason for the cake throw in the report. It was said Brown was actually attempting to throw it at Turiaf as a joke, believing the cake belonged to him but missed. They then dispersed, with Brown departing in a limousine. A "grand theft of a person" case was presented by detectives to the city attorney's office, but Brown was not prosecuted.
*Brown later compensated the man by buying him dinner at the Arena Club at the Staples Center.
- Brown became the first high-school prospect to be picked first (overall) in the NBA draft when he was picked by the Washington Wizards in 2001.
- Kwame's talent was clearly visible at an early age. When called out against a traveling "globetrotter" basketball team during his 5th grade year at St. Simons Island Elementary, Brown took the ball and dunked on the globetrotter.
- Although Kwame was born in Charleston, South Carolina, he was raised with his six brothers in Brunswick, Georgia, which is located in Southeast Georgia.