Legendary NBA Bust Kwame Brown Has Battled Personal Demons Since He Retired
Kwame Brown will forever be remembered as one of the greatest busts in NBA history — or worst busts, depending on one’s point of view.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2001, Brown struggled to fit in and play well with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, the Wizards’ part-owner and executive-turned-shooting guard.
Nearly 20 years after he first appeared in the NBA, Brown has continued struggling with his personal demons.
Kwame Brown played 12 NBA seasons
A standout high school prospect who originally intended to play collegiately at the University of Florida, Brown instead entered the 2001 NBA draft.
Michael Jordan, then calling the shots for the Washington Wizards, drafted Brown with the top selection. Brown averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, which weren’t at all bad numbers for a teenager … but not enough to immediately justify him being selected No. 1 overall.
Brown’s numbers jumped to 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds as a sophomore. Come 2003, Brown finally showed signs of breaking out when he averaged 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds in 74 games and 57 starts.
Brown never took that next step, though, and Washington traded him to the Lakers in 2005. The Lakers hoped Brown would help Kobe Bryant and potentially fill the center gap created after Los Angeles dealt Shaquille O’Neal to the Heat in 2004.
That never happened. Brown feuded with Lakers teammates and although he came on late in the 2005-06 season, he struggled with injuries.
Los Angeles traded Brown to Memphis for Pau Gasol during the 2007-08 season. Brown bounced around the rest of the NBA before he played his final game for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013.
Brown is one of the biggest busts in NBA history
Any credible list involving the biggest busts in NBA history is guaranteed to have Kwame Brown on it.
Basketball-Reference uses an advanced metric known as VORP (Value over Replacement Player) to measure how valuable players are. Kwame Brown was worth -1.3 VORP in his career, tied with Eddy Curry for the fourth-worst score in the 2001 NBA draft.
Compare that score to other No. 1 overall picks considered busts. Anthony Bennett, the Cavaliers’ No. 1 overall pick in 2013, also totaled -1.3 VORP.
Greg Oden was worth 0.8 VORP in his three NBA seasons. Andrea Bargnani played far longer than most other busts and totaled 1.5 VORP in 10 seasons.
Kwame Brown has battled personal demons since he retired
Although Kwame Brown spent time in the BIG3 in 2017, he hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2013.
Life has been tough for him since then. Despite not playing in that time, Brown’s legacy as an NBA bust has only grown over the years.
In a 2017 interview with Hoops Hype, Brown addressed the online harassment he’d received from fans and media members over the years.
Brown said the internet got things as simple as his middle name wrong. Brown pointed out an internet search of his full name pulled up “Kwame James Brown.”
In reality, Brown’s middle name is Hasani.
“It is sort of frustrating when people are talking about me and I’m not even getting the opportunity to play and silence the critics, especially my first year in the league. They told me to put on 40 lbs. so I did that, but then I was so big and heavy that I couldn’t move around well. So I was being bashed and then not even getting the opportunity to play big minutes and prove myself.”
Things didn’t improve for Brown from there. Georgia police arrested him in March 2019 and charged him with felony possession of edible marijuana products and misdemeanor possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, according to Bleacher Report.
Brown was released from police custody after he posted bond.
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