9.20.2013

Brown is Dee-lighted

May 23, 1997

After two frustrating and unproductive seasons, Dee Brown desperately needs to get his career back on track. The Celtics guard figures new coach Rick Pitino is the man to help him achieve that objective.

"I really feel I can excel playing for him," Brown said yesterday from his home in Orlando. "I was so thrilled when I heard the news that the Celtics had hired him.

"It's great for the organization and personally, I think it's going to be great for me. I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about how much fun it would be playing in coach Pitino's system."

Pitino was hired May 6 as the Celtics' head coach and president. He's been busy since preparing for one of the most important drafts in Celtics' history. At the same time, he has taken a hard look at the team's roster. Brown's name has surfaced more than a few times.

"Dee Brown is one of the players on this team who can really play the game," said Pitino, addressing the central question of which veterans are capable of fitting into his high-octane system. "I'm very anxious to work with Dee as well as all of the Celtics who I feel have not reached their potential for one reason or another. I honestly wish we could begin practice tomorrow."

So does Brown, who has recovered from a broken right big toe that kept him sidelined the final two months of the season. Brown also reports a recovery from lower back problems that derailed him during much of the first half of the season.

"I'm so excited about playing - it's like a new lease on life for me," said Brown, 28, who will enter his eighth NBA season.

"Coach Pitino's system - whether it's been at Providence, the Knicks, Kentucky - is all about going full steam, up and down the floor, working at peak efficiency for all 48 minutes.

"It takes a lot of energy and a full commitment, which means you have to be in the best possible shape. I plan to be."

Brown, who returned home with his family Wednesday from a vacation in Aruba, has been lifting weights since the season ended. He will resume playing basketball in the next few weeks and has already made plans to participate in the Celtics' rookie-free agent camp in July.

"I haven't had an opportunity yet to talk to coach Pitino because he's been so busy, but I'm definitely going to be up there to take part," said Brown, at the midway point in a six-year contract. "I've always gone to the summer camp since I joined the Celtics. Last year was the first year I missed."

Brown, still smarting from a 1995-96 season in which he publicly asked to be traded because of limited playing time, had figured it was best for all concerned he stay away during last July's four-day session. He worked out his differences with then-Celtics coach and director of basketball operations M.L. Carr, but his frustrations were only beginning.

He watched a second straight season ruined, this time by injuries, leaving his once-promising NBA career at a crossroads. But Brown, for the first time since he plummeted from the Celtics' nucleus to an afterthought on the roster, is confident he can re-establish himself in Boston.

"It's where I started my career and it's where I'd like to hopefully get it back headed in the right direction," said Brown

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