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Kobe Bryant: Tale of Kwame Brown in LA Adds to Legend of Infamous Bust

EL SEGUNDO, CA - MAY 11:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference at the Lakers training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Joseph HealyCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2011

When we look back 15 or 20 years from now, it's quite possible that Kwame Brown will be remembered as the biggest bust in the history of the NBA draft.

Brown was selected as the first pick in the 2001 draft by the Washington Wizards, who at the time were being more or less run by Michael Jordan, the team president.

Jordan apparently fell in love with Brown after seeing him work out, and in hindsight, that has probably contributed more to the reputation that Jordan is a bad front office executive than anything he has done since.

Just by looking at his career stats, it's clear that Brown never became the player Jordan and the Wizards thought he would be, but now, thanks to Kobe Bryant, we have a story of just how much Brown struggled at times.

Brown played three seasons with the Lakers. It was during this time that Bryant was basically carrying the team on his back without Shaq and later, Pau Gasol, to help him out.

When talking to a group of students at UC-Santa Barbara, Bryant told the story of a particular game where he became exasperated with Brown. Deadspin.com passed along the following Bryant quotes as transcribed by Michael Lee of the Washington Post:

"The game before we traded for Pau, we're playing Detroit and I had like 40 points towards the end of the game. This is back when Detroit had Rasheed [Wallace], Chauncey [Billups] and those guys, so we had no business being in the game. So down the stretch of the game, they put in a box and one. So I'm surrounded by these players, Detroit players, and Kwame is under the basket, all by himself. Literally, like all by himself. So I pass him the ball, he bobbled it and it goes out of bounds.

Bryant then talked about what Brown said to him during the next timeout:

"So we go back to the timeout and I'm [upset], right? He goes, ‘I was wide open.' ‘Yeah, I know.' This is how I'm talking to him, like, during the game. I said, ‘You're going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.' He said, ‘Well, if I'm open don't throw it to me.' I was like, ‘Huh?' He said, ‘Don't throw it to me.' I said, ‘Why not?' He said, well, ‘I'm nervous. If I catch it and they foul me, I won't make the free throws.' I said, ‘Hell no!'

Bryant then goes on to say that after that game, word came down that the Lakers had worked out a deal to acquire Pau Gasol.

This story seems like the perfect anecdote to describe the career of Kwame Brown. He has always seemed timid and unsure of himself, like he is constantly battling the expectations of being the pet draft pick of Michael Jordan.

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