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Kwame Brown: The First Overall Pick for Change.

Writer on Hubpages and Harvard School of Public Health Alumni


The biggest story in the NBA this year has been off the court and in Georgia. Kwame Brown has taken over the internet as a bust.

The Washington Wizards selected Kwame Brown first overall in 2001. During his career, however, numerous commentators panned Kwame for failing to live up to his hype. Anyone who conducts research on him will discover the media's portrayal of him, which has kept him mute for years.

Rather than portraying him as a trailblazer, the media portrayed him as a failure. For decades, he was held up as an example for why high school players should not go directly into the NBA. Still, Kwame was able to spend 12 years in the NBA.

However, the disrespect aimed at Kwame finally took a turn for the worse in 2021 when he decided to publicly vent his grievances on YouTube. The same leadership and character attributes that may have led to Brown being selected first overall began to surface at this point. And viewers have continued to watch in amazement. His message has evolved to include more than basketball.

To be fair to Kwame, several players in the 2001 draft were exceptional and could have taken the first overall pick. These include Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson and Zach Randolph are among those drafted in 2001. In total, eight all-stars were selected in the draft.

It's difficult to see the Wizards making such a colossal error as selecting Brown first overall. As a result, I began to wonder what had actually occurred. Nobody understands why Brown was chosen first overall or why his career hasn't gone as well as other first overall picks. However, we may all speculate on a few possible explanations.

When Brown joined the Washington Wizards in the NBA, he did so as part of a rebuilding effort centered on Michael Jordan, who was not the first overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft. And how fortunate for the Wizards to get the #1 overall pick right when Jordan came out of retirement.

The most likely scenario that explains why the Wizards drafted Kwame was because they planned to trade him and didn't want to invest in his development. This is an idea put forth by Kwame himself. Elton Brown or Shareef Abdur-Rahim have been mentioned as players the Wizards could have acquired by drafting Kwame. Both players had a lot of potential and could have helped the Wizards contend for a playoff spot right away.

This conclusion is supported by a substantial body of proof. To begin with, the first four draft picks were all centers, and the second and third overall picks were traded before the season began.

Prior to the start of the season, Chandler, the second overall draft pick, was traded for Brand, and Gasol, the third overall draft pick, was dealt for Abdur-Rahim.

In 1999, Brand was the first overall choice in the NBA draft, and he had averaged more than 20 points per game for the previous two seasons. In the 1996 NBA draft, Abdur-Rahim was the third overall choice, and he was chosen to the 1997 NBA All-Rookie First Team. As a rookie, he also averaged 18.7 points per game. Abdur-Rahim had averaged at least 20.0 points per game in each of the prior four seasons. The Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, on the other hand, struggled to win with their young stars.

The Bulls, Clippers, and Grizzlies all wanted a powerful young center, which makes sense. The unstoppable Lakers were led by Shaquille O'Neal in the 2001 NBA finals, while the Philadelphia 76ers were led by Dikembe Mutombo.

In 2001 many teams needed a center and were ready to choose a quality one over a much better player later in the draft. Size was a major premium, similar to how teams prize 3-point shooting in today's NBA. Today's teams would gladly pick a solid point guard or 3-point shooter over a lot more talented players. Even if there are more great players, the top 3-point shooter in any draft might easily be picked first.

In fact, 17 centers and 11 power forwards were drafted in 2001. As a result, power forwards and centers made up about half of the players picked.

Entering the 2001-2 NBA season almost every good team had great centers. These teams required a player to help them matchup against many good centers and power forwards.

The San Antonio Spurs had David Robinson, Detroit Pistons had Ben Wallace, Indiana Pacers had Jermaine O’Neal, Dallas Mavericks had Shawn Bradley, Denver Nuggets had Antonio McDyess, and the Sacramento Kings had Vlade Divac. While many of these centers did not ultimately make the Hall of Fame, they are good enough to start on championship teams. Many of them would rank among the top five centers in today's NBA and would embarrass modern centers.

And the power forward position was becoming revolutionized in the NBA with Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Webber, and Rasheed Wallace.

This, however, is not the only option. The Wizards may have planned for Jordan to fail as a player, president of basketball operations, and minority owner of the organization. It's not impossible that the Wizards' majority owners were worried about the possibility of Jordan buying the Wizards. It's also conceivable that they didn't want him to continue as a president of basketball operations.

Similarly, it is believed that the majority owner of the Wizards Abe Pollin stopped Kwame from being traded for Brand. This would have certainly made it more difficult for Jordan to succeed while playing for the Wizards. Brown, a previous first-overall pick, was only 22 years old at the time and already averaging 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Brown was also owed less than $4 million for the 2001-02 season. Not authorizing the trade made no sense from a basketball or financial standpoint, as any fan could see.

Similarly, the NBA and NCAA may have coordinated the 2001 NBA draft selections to eliminate future high school prospects from moving straight to the NBA after high school. Brown's failure as the first overall pick would definitely add to the story they wanted to tell in order to sell the “one-and-done rule.” Many people over the years have pointed to Brown as an example of why athletes needed to play one year of college basketball in order to play in the NBA. The media continues to promote this narrative.

However, the media is a big component of the NBA’s revenue. Most small markets cannot support their own NBA team and are able to do so only with profit sharing. It is estimated by some sources that ESPN and TNT alone account for $2.6 billion a year in revenue for the NBA per year.

All of the top 4 draft picks in the 2001 NBA draft were either high school players or international players. How convenient for the NBA.

With his original content, Brown has managed to capture lightning in a bottle.Beyond basketball, Brown's content provides unique insight into a player's post-NBA life. His lifestyle and way of life are depicted in every video he does. His grasp of how to enjoy life is implicit as well. His YouTube videos provide viewers with priceless nuggets of wisdom and humor about being a “man.” It's evident from Kwame’s rants how little some of these other sports analysts know.

It's no longer a secret that sports journalists manufacture stories about athletes in order to enhance their careers. For them, it's all about the money and the celebrity. Many of them have never before coached or played.

I get the majority of my information from other people. As fans, we can only assume, read what others have said, and look at publicly available data. Brown was obviously not treated like a typical number one draft pick. It's clear from reading the newspaper that the Wizards didn't want Kwame and that the media didn't think he was very talented.

However, it's worth noting that he had been running a YouTube channel for the previous year, where he discussed a variety of social concerns. And Kwame has his own philosophy for how to help impoverished communities.

There is definitely a deeper message to Kwame’s videos. His videos include a wealth of information. Most importantly, NBA players are first and foremost human beings. And it is creating a border conversation about how we treat athletes.

We hold players to an unreasonably high standard. This is often so the media can make money. However, it does help pay the salaries of players. Not every player drafted has the potential to be the next LeBron James. Of the roughly 4500 players drafted into the NBA less there have been 437 All-Stars and 35 MVPS.

Kwame has exposed the unrealistic expectations we have of most athletes and celebrities. And how the NBA does a poor job of highlighting the real people behind the jerseys and what good players accomplish outside of basketball.

People bring their own perspectives, experiences, and politics to the workplace. This influences not only a company's culture, but also how it interacts with customers and other members of the community.

Kwame is part of a larger movement to transform the media and the information that the general public receives. Impoverished communities are expecting more as the number of millionaires grows.

The majority of our institutions are not set up to assist the poor. And corporate America is conservative and unconcerned. Having more diverse executives would alter the hiring process. It also affects how businesses interact with their employees, communities, their position on taxes, and customers. As an example, consider Starbucks.

Starbucks was founded by Howard Schultz, a rags-to-riches story. Starbucks pioneered part-time worker wages and benefits under his leadership. Being one of the first companies to provide health benefits to part-time employees.

Similar initiatives could have been undertaken by other companies prior to Starbucks. However, it was Shultz's character and background that made it possible.

We can see how prominently Kwame's upbringing influenced his worldview and desire to help others. Brown has also been using his platform to help small businesses.

Kwame Brown exemplifies why we need more diverse members of the media and corporate America. Candidates from diverse backgrounds, as well as those from impoverished backgrounds, have a difficult time getting hired and moving up the corporate ladder.

In order to get the kinds of changes Kwame wants, we need to change who are in leadership positions within the media and corporate America

We've seen a "not in my backyard" attitude with diversity and inclusion. Many corporate executives want diversity as long as it does not have an impact on them or their ability to advance up the corporate ladder.

A large segment of the population is being left out of the American success story. Kwame Brown is a one-of-a-kind force among NBA players who want to help these people and communities. He is the first overall pick in this arena. Not too bad for a bust.

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