Chucky Brown's Long NBA Journey
May 4, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
Reynolds Coliseum was no stranger to Chucky Brown when he moved to Raleigh in 1985 to play for coach Jimmy Valvano. He had spent many a summer afternoon and evening playing in coach Valvano’s basketball instructional sessions in the house that Everett Case built.
“Coach Cliff Gibson (high school coach) brought me and some other players to the camps,” he remembered in a recent conversation. “I was young and got to know some of the guys off the 1983 national championship team – Whit (Derek Whittenburg), Cozell (McQueen), Thurl (Bailey), Lorenzo (Charles) and Terry Gannon.”
That was after Coach V had put his personal stamp on the storied arena. During his first summer camp, the State coach had glanced around his basketball palace and all of the old green seats. “You know what I’m going to do to this place,” he said. “I’m having all of these seats painted Wolfpack red.”
And what a positive change that made to the 12,400-seat coliseum.
“There was no other place in the country I’d rather have played than Reynolds,” Brown noted. “Everybody was involved,” in that noisy atmosphere. “The only arena I could compare it to of the places I have played is the Old Boston Garden.”
Valvano used Brown as a spot player for the first couple of seasons as he developed through sacrifice, hard work and Valvano’s coaching. Brown then became a 16 ppg scorer and a solid rebounder.
“I loved playing for coach Valvano. He gave you confidence in what you were doing. He was a great coach. He made you believe in what you were doing.”
Brown acknowledged that his coach was a multi-talented individual, who could not only coach, but also could have been a college English professor, a stand-up comedian, a broadcaster, a businessman-marketer. Having a plethora of energy and a bundle of ideas led to Valvano spending a lot of time away from the team.
“Coach Valvano always told us when you get out in the world, it is not a friendly place because people are all out for themselves.” He said Coach V was always looking to help others in whatever he was doing.
Being instrumental in leading the Pack to the 1987 and 1989 tournament and regular-season ACC championships are his favorite memories in Raleigh along with those roaring, deafening crowds in Reynolds Coliseum.
“That 1989 team was picked near the bottom of the ACC and we finished first,” Brown noted. “Valvano said he enjoyed coaching that team more than any other.”
Brown’s infamous work ethic on the court also carried over to academics. The Pack student-athlete, however, was short on credits towards graduation when he was drafted by the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers 43rd in the second round of the 1989 season.
Even though he played on 12 different NBA teams in a career spanning 13 seasons and made a ton of money and invested wisely, the former North Brunswick High star, returned to NC State to procure a B.A. degree in sociology in 2004. That was as important to him as his NBA championship ring he earned as a member of the Houston Rockets.
The Leland Flash was a solid role player in the NBA – always giving his best effort and exhibiting excellent leadership through his workmanship and calm demeanor.
Brown viewed professional basketball as “a business” and says it’s a misconception that the majority of players don’t listen to coaches. “Pro players aren’t as bad in listening to their coaches as people think,” he emphasized. “That’s just the perception which is out there.”
“Togetherness” was the key ingredient that took Houston to the 1995 NBA championship over Orlando in a four-game sweep, he said. “Besides Hakeem Olajuwon (center) and Clyde Drexler (guard), everyone else knew their roles and fell in line,” he surmised.
Ironically, Olajuwon and Drexler were on the short end of the stick when the 1983 Wolfpack produced a monumental, 54-52 upset over the Houston Cougars in the NCAA championship game.
Brown doesn’t like the current one-and-done state of the college game. He would rather high school seniors have the option to sign immediately after graduation or face at least two years in the collegiate ranks.
“If they sign right out of high school and make the wrong decision, then it’s just their fault,” Brown stated.
He also believes that the minimum salary requirement of a million dollars is hurting veteran players from keeping their jobs. “I would have been glad to play for less (at that juncture).”
Brown noted that college recruiting has changed drastically since his playing days.
“There are so many more gifted kids. And you add in the other things like upgraded facilities and social media and recruiting is more difficult now.”
As for making changes in the game, Brown believes the three-point field goal distance should be identical for both college and pro players. “The college line should be moved back to the pro distance,” Brown believes.
By George Cox, GoPack.com