On Feb. 1, 2008, the LA Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol, Aaron McKie, a 2008 first-round pick, and a 2010 first-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. The blockbuster deal handed Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant the second star he needed to compete for a championship.
The Kwame Brown-Pau Gasol trade also gave NBA fans one of the best rants in sports history by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Kwame Brown is one of the biggest busts in NBA history
Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards drafted Kwame Brown with the first overall pick in the 2001 draft. The big man went to the NBA straight from high school and was projected to be a superstar in the pros.
However, Brown is one of the biggest busts in NBA history. In 607 games with the Wizards, Lakers, Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors, and Philadelphia 76ers, Brown averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 49.2% from the field. He never played in an All-Star game and only appeared in 18 playoff games.
Kobe Bryant hated playing with Brown on the Lakers, who became title contenders after acquiring Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies. Although LA lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Finals, Bryant and Gasol led the Lakers to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.
When the Kwame Brown-Pau Gasol trade was announced, Stephen A. Smith appeared on an ESPN newsbreak segment to break down the trade. What happened during that live bit will never be forgotten.
Stephen A. Smith destroyed Kwame Brown on live television
Stephen A. Smith destroyed Kwame Brown and his basketball skills after the Lakers traded the former No. 1 overall pick to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. The veteran ESPN analyst has never been one to mince words, and he wasn’t about to start back in 2008 when LA finally got rid of Brown.
“Is that a trick question? They gave up Kwame Brown, who cares? I could care less! First of all, understand something. When you’re giving up first round picks, if you are a quality team in playoff contention, it really doesn’t mean that much, that’s number one,” Smith said. “Number two and more importantly, Kwame Brown is gone. The City of Angels, Hollywood should be celebrating. Throw a parade already whether you win a championship or not. This man was a bonafide scrub. He can’t play. No disrespect whatsoever, but I’m sorry to call, tell everybody the truth, the man cannot play the game of basketball. He has small hands, he can’t catch the ball, he has bad feet, he can’t really move even though he’s mobile, doesn’t really know what he’s doing, doesn’t have a post move that he or he puts to memory that he can do two times in a row. He has no game whatsoever, plays no defense, doesn’t have the heart, the passion or anything that comes with it, and you’re asking me whether they gave up too much? Please. The Los Angeles Lakers knew exactly what they were doing, they should be celebrating right now, and Kobe Bryant should not be saying a word.”
This is one of the best rants of Stephen A. Smith’s career. People in Kwame Brown’s circle obviously hated it, but Lakers and sports fans worldwide laughed profusely when they saw it on TV.
The Lakers wouldn’t have won the title in 2009 and 2010 without Pau Gasol
In the 2009 Finals against the Orlando Magic, Pau Gasol averaged 18.6 points and 9.2 rebounds as Kobe Bryant’s partner in crime. The future Hall of Famer followed that up by notching averages of 17.8 points and 11.2 rebounds in the 2010 Finals versus the Celtics.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers don’t win back-to-back titles without acquiring Pau Gasol. It was a trade Stephen A. Smith knew the Purple and Gold had to make so Kwame Brown would no longer be in LA.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.