No Harm, but Brown Calls Foul
Sunday, October 2, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- For the first time since his disappointing four-year career with the Washington Wizards ended, Kwame Brown is giving his version of why he was suspended during last season's playoffs.
Brown said he did not become ill after Game 3 of Washington's first-round series against the Chicago Bulls, as the Wizards reported at the time, but skipped practice the following day because he was so angry at teammate Gilbert Arenas that he feared he would have attacked the Wizards' high-scoring point guard.
In his first extensive interview since the Wizards traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers, the former No. 1 pick appeared relaxed as he spoke from his new home, a $3.6 million mansion with a spectacular view of Malibu and -- on a clear day -- the famous "Hollywood" sign. Brown, 23, said he is looking optimistically toward the new season with his new team.
"You see my house. It's bigger than the house I had in Washington," he said. "You see my team. It's better than the Wizards. This is the best organization in the league."
Brown's perspective on his days with the Wizards, however, is still tinged with bitterness.
Brown said that during Game 3 of the Bulls series, Arenas told Coach Eddie Jordan not to insert Brown into the game, and that Jordan complied. Brown said Jordan's decision angered him so much that he wanted to physically harm Arenas the next day at practice. In order to contain his rage, Brown said, he decided not to come to practice for fear of what he would have done to Arenas.
"The thing is, the whole thing stems from Gilbert telling them not to put me in the game. I didn't come to practice because I was going to be a distraction. I was going to slap the [expletive] out of him," Brown said. "I'll admit it, what I did was wrong -- not showing up was wrong -- but I ain't saying what I would've done if I showed up would've been right. Being that I didn't show up I didn't put my hands on nobody. How a teammate, a supposed friend, would go to a coach and tell him don't put me in a game, I would've done something seriously wrong to him."
Told of Brown's accusations, Arenas denied his former teammate's version of events. "That's the coach's decision. I'm not the coach. I'm not the GM," Arenas said. "If he feels I have that much pull that I could pull him in and out of the game, then I guess he would blame me. If that's his excuse for missing practices -- to blame me -- then I'm strong enough to take the responsibility. But I never told Coach to put him out the game."
'Stuck on the Same Thing'
Jordan said Arenas had no say in whether Brown played in Game 3, when Brown played a season-low four minutes in a 117-99 blowout win against the Bulls. "That's not true," he said when informed of Brown's comments. "I didn't make my decision based on what [Brown] thought Gilbert said, and I never heard Gilbert say that.
"The fact that he didn't play is because somebody else was playing better, and he wasn't playing as well. I can't recall every minute, every decision I made in Game 3, but certainly, I made my decision based on how the game was going and how players were playing. Not because of what somebody told me."
Brown had an uneven performance during the game on April 30, missing his only shot attempt and going scoreless with two rebounds and one block. Jordan relied on reserves Etan Thomas and Michael Ruffin, who both had breakout performances in a game that turned around the series, which the Wizards won 4-2.
Brown was excused from practice the next day after informing the team that he had a stomach virus. When he did not attend the morning shoot-around, the team told him that he would not be allowed to attend Game 4 at MCI Center. The following day he met with Jordan and President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld and was suspended. At the time, Jordan said Brown's absence was due solely to illness. Two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Brown never mentioned Arenas's name during the meeting, which lasted 10 minutes.