Kwame Brown was selected first overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. He was supposed to be the next great big man for the Washington Wizards franchise. Instead, he became known as one of the biggest draft busts in league history.
But, does he deserve to be called a draft bust? Or were the circumstances just stacked against him?
Who is Kwame Brown?
Kwame Brown is a former NBA player considered one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. He was the first overall draft pick in 2001 by the Washington Wizards largely because Michael Jordan, part-owner, and president of basketball operations at that time, wanted him there.
But, before he was a draft bust, he was considered the top high school player in the nation and was a superstar for Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Georgia. Brown was an All-American in high school and won a spot in the McDonald’s All-American Team.
Because he was so talented, he had college teams knocking on his door, including the University of Connecticut, Duke University, and Georgia Tech. He even chose the University of Florida by signing a letter of intent. However, he decided to go straight to the NBA instead because he wanted to help his family immediately by earning an NBA paycheck.
First overall pick
It was a controversial decision to get Brown as high school players, no matter how talented, were often considered very risky picks. This is one of the reasons why Kobe Bryant wasn’t selected higher in the draft. However, Kwame Brown was a talented high school player with an agile, NBA-ready body at 6’11”. Michael Jordan saw him as the Wizards’ franchise player of the future.
However, Kwame Brown did not live up to the lofty expectations of being the guy who Michael Jordan drafted first overall. Instead, he became an average role player at best and a downright lousy player sometimes who did not deserve to take up an NBA roster slot.
He averaged only 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game over his career and served mainly as a bench warmer. He also suffered from harsh criticism, especially when Jordan became his teammate.
Teams he played for
Brown played for seven teams over his 13-year career: The Wizards (2001-05), Los Angeles Lakers (2005-08), Memphis Grizzlies (2008), Detroit Pistons (2008-10), Charlotte Bobcats (2010-2011), and Golden State Warriors (2011-2012), and the Philadelphia 76ers (2012-2013). As such, he was known as a journeyman which was uncommon for a first-overall pick.
Why Isn’t Kwame Brown Playing Anymore?
Brown settled into his role as a rotation player and became somewhat of a journeyman in the league. He spent time with a few teams but never found his niche. He was out of the league after the 2012-13 season after suffering from a career-ending hamstring injury.
So, it was a combination of a lack of interest from NBA teams and the injury that caused Brown to fall out of the league. It’s hard to blame anyone for not wanting him on their team. After all, he is considered one of the biggest draft busts in the NBA, and plenty of other players who have come into the league since then are better than him.
So, after leaving basketball behind him at age 31, what has Kwame Brown been up to?
What Really Happened to Kwame Brown?
In the summer of 2001, Kwame Brown was drafted by the Washington Wizards as the first overall pick in the NBA draft. He was just 18 years old and had never played against anyone who could match his size or speed before. And because of his high school performances, he was drafted by none other than Michael Jordan himself.
Elton Brand trade
Initial reports say that Michael Jordan really did see potential in the high schooler. However, Brown would later claim that the Wizards intended to use Brown as part of a trade to bring Elton Brand to Washington. In the end, the trade didn’t go through, and Brown played for Washington for three seasons. He averaged just 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game over his tenure with the Wizards.
Rookie hazing and other troubles
It wasn’t long before he found himself in a fish-out-of-water scenario in a league with grown men. He faced rookie hazing, criticism, and a lack of support from his teammates.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Michael Jordan – who was both a teammate and the basketball executive who drafted him – had a reputation for being extremely demanding of the rookie during practice sessions (and pretty much anywhere else). Needless to say, he didn’t seem like someone who would be sympathetic towards an 18-year-old kid who’d just been thrust into adulthood overnight after being selected first overall by an NBA team out of high school.
Kwame Brown Injury mismanagement
In his active social media platforms, Brown also detailed how a misdiagnosed hamstring injury by the 76ers led to his decision to end his career. He said he was told by the team that his injury would heal on its own, but instead, it worsened over time.
Brown struggled to become the 20-and-10 that was expected from a center picked first overall. However, he did have longevity, and teams found some use for his talents in the league. He played for seven teams in his 14-year NBA career and was a solid backup for most of it.
Kwame Brown’s Life After NBA
Kwame Brown’s NBA career ended quietly in 2013. Despite being one of the most infamous draft busts in sports history, he was able to earn about $64,227,908 throughout his 12-year career with six different teams.
How he spent his money
With his NBA earnings, Brown bought his mother a mansion by the beach. He was also able to buy his family a small house in Virginia.
But it’s not all rosy for Brown’s finances as he had to sue the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch in 2018 for mismanaging his assets. The lawsuit claimed that Merrill Lynch lost over $17 million of Brown’s money by investing it in high-risk products without his knowledge or consent.
But overall, Kwame Brown’s life after basketball is not as glamorous as it once was, but he has been able to live comfortably since his retirement. Kwame Brown’s net worth sits comfortably at an estimated $4 million.
Return to Basketball
In 2017, Brown participated in Ice Cube’s ‘Big 3‘ league and even got all the way to the Finals game that summer alongside players Jason Williams and Rashard Lewis.
Burgeoning YouTube and Instagram Influencer career
He also started a YouTube channel called Kwame Brown Bust Life, where he discusses his life after basketball as well as current events affecting athletes around the world today. He has gained over 300,000 subscribers and has over 12 million views on his videos.
Wrapping Things Up: What Happened to Kwame Brown?
Whether people believe he’s a draft bust or a solid NBA player who was good enough to play in the best basketball league in the world for 12 long seasons, Kwame Brown has proven that he is able to persevere. He has made the most of his talent and has been able to make a life for himself after playing professional basketball, which is more than what many players can say about themselves.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.
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- What Happened to Chandler Parsons?
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- What Happened to Derrick Rose?
- What Happened to Enes Freedom?
- What Happened to Baron Davis?
- What Happened to Jayson Williams
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