Brown's bounce is back

August 10, 1997

There isn't anyone on the Celtics more excited about the new regime than Dee Brown. He still has a ways to go to restore his battered image, not to mention his NBA game. This season gives him an opportunity to do both and he is counting the days until it all starts.

"It's kind of like starting all over again," the former captain said from his Florida home. "I'm looking at this as a challenge. You have something to prove to yourself and to everyone else."

He is at 185 pounds, which is where he should be, and, more important, where Rick Pitino wants him to be. He has been put on a nutrition/workout program by the team's strength and conditioning coach. He is working out six days a week, twice a day, in the Florida sun, "and every workout, every day, I've been thinking about coming back to Boston and playing."

He's even coming to Boston for good at the end of this week - six weeks earlier than normal. That's because Pitino, in what surely has to be an unprecedented move, has scheduled two five-day minicamps for the last two weeks of August at Brandeis. (He's already had at least three.) These are "voluntary" minicamps, but the last one had almost perfect attendance (Pervis Ellison wasn't there, however.) And, as Brown noted, "we won 15 games last year. Why wouldn't you want to get a head start? There are six new guys on the team. It's good for them. It's good for us."

Brown said he is in excellent shape. He says his back and toe, which conspired to basically ruin his season last year, are both fine. "I haven't felt this good since my second year in the league, just before I blew out my knee in training camp," he said.

That was the Dee Brown that we all thought might someday develop into something special. He had quickness, athleticism, enthusiasm, and actually liked to play defense. He was a Celtic unlike any we had seen in a while, which was further dramatized when he won the Slam Dunk contest.

The Dee Brown of 1990-92 would fit like a glove in the Pitino system. The Dee Brown of 1995-97 would fit like the O.J. glove. No one knows that better than the man himself.

"I realize I haven't done anything in the last two years," he said. "It got too personal between me and M.L. Carr. Respect was lost on both sides and you end up working only as hard as you need to. I felt like I was running in cement. Then, he took the captaincy away and that was like a slap in the face. But I understood and tried to move forward. Now, it's all different. I never thought I'd be in a situation where I got another chance and still was in Boston. That's the best of both worlds."

He is psyched, a feeling he hasn't had in years, and one he was wondering if he'd ever experience again in a Boston uniform.

"Everyone who has seen me this summer has noticed the difference," he said. "They can tell how excited I am. I haven't had this feeling in so long and it feels great. The new system is perfect for me. Coach Pitino is up front with you and doesn't pull any punches. All I want is the opportunity to prove myself again. I told the coach to just give me the chance, I can take care of the rest."

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