9.29.2015

Dee is a Busy Bee




July 24, 1991
The man from Worcester will be there today to pick him up for the 75-minute drive to a basketball clinic. There's another clinic upcoming at Boston College. And a three-on-three tournament in Nova Scotia.

There also have been card shows, speaking engagements, personal appearances, modeling sessions and, occasionally, even time for basketball. 

Welcome to Dee Brown's dizzy offseason. He is on the go almost constantly and will be until training camp in October. He did block out this week to participate in rookie camp at Babson College, a 5-iron from his new home. He also would have liked to attend the LA Summer League this week and next, but his time had been booked long ago.

"If you told me last year that I would need two policemen just to escort me to my car, I'd have never believed it," Brown said yesterday in a rare moment of solitude. "You try to get used to it, but no one ever told me I'd have to learn how to do this overnight."

A year ago, the Wellesley police thought he was a bank robbery suspect and forced him to the pavement, guns drawn. Now, he's getting police escorts to his car, a necessity to shield him from countless autograph hounds and aspiring paparrazi.

It has been this way for Brown all summer, his first break from basketball since he turned pro and then became a celebrity with a capital C by winning the slam dunk contest. The requests for his time are endless.

"And my agent tells me it's going to be worse next summer," Brown said. "That's because he's already told the people that they'll have to wait until then. He told me in one three-hour stretch when he was away from his office that he got 25 calls for me."

Since the season ended, Brown has been in Chicago, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Maine, Rhode Island, Spain, Florida and countless towns in suburban Boston. He spends three hours at card shows signing autographs.

Everyone wants a piece of him and many of the appearances were booked when he was simply The Rook and was available, eager and cheap. In other words, before the slam dunk championship.

Nevertheless, he has trouble saying no, although he has backed off several golf invitations because he doesn't know how to play.

"The only time I feel safe is when I'm on the basketball court," said Brown. "Or at home. That's it."

He has been a regular at rookie camp by his own choice. Both he and Reggie Lewis have been at all the night sessions and Brown even showed up yesterday morning for the drudge work.

The Dee Brown on display this week has bulked up (upper body courtesy of Gold's Gym) and is now the unchallenged and undisputed fan favorite in the camp. A year ago, he showed up unable to play because he had not signed a contract. Every time there was a break in action, he'd zip out onto the floor and take a few shots.

"He was like some kid in a paper bag," CEO Dave Gavitt said.

Now, he's running some new plays installed by the coaching staff, encouraging the hopefuls and delighting the evening crowd with dunks.

"The coach wants me to run the show, if I can," he said. "And that's what I want to do."

"He really has an air of confidence about him," coach Chris Ford said. "You can just see it. And he's been pumping iron. It's good to see him here."

Brown wanted to be here this week. There was no pressure from management or subtle suggestions. He showed up the first night.

"It's important for me to be here," he said. "This is probably the best competition I'll get all summer. These guys play hard and they're all hungry. And I have to stay hungry. Someone always is on my butt so I have to stay involved and keep active."

He's working on his point guard skills, ballhandling, passing in traffic and shooting treys. He may not be able to beat his coach in informal shooting from international waters, but he's working at it.

"I know I can shoot from that range," he said. He made 7 in 34 attempts last year.

As he speaks, Gavitt intervenes to relay the information about the clinic in Worcester.

"If I could play against NBA competition every day, I'd do it," said Brown. "It's only going to make you a better player and that's what I'd like to do."

That's not possible. And he is quickly discovering that while there may be no games in the summer, there's also little time for relaxation.

"I never expected anything like this in one year," he said. "I mean, I always had confidence in my ability as a player. But I get very uncomfortable when I have to speak. I just don't know what to say. It just keeps coming and coming. Boom. Boom. Boom."

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