Where Are They Now - Terrell Brandon

Brandon averaged over 17 ppg in his last three years as a Cavalier.
Jonathan Daniel
NBAE/Getty Images
“In the shadows” is usually not the ideal place to begin an NBA career. But that’s where Terrell Brandon began his tour of duty with the Cavaliers as a first-round draft pick (No. 11 overall) in 1991.

During the 1990-91 season, Cavaliers All-NBA point guard, Mark Price had his season cut to 16 games due to a torn ACL. The Cavaliers finished 33-49 that season, going with Darnell Valentine and John Morton at the point. Determined not to risk another collapse, Cleveland tabbed Brandon, a smooth junior guard from Oregon.

That season, Brandon was named to the All-Rookie second team after averaging 7.4 points and 3.9 assists per game. Price regained his All-Star form and he and Brad Daugherty once again represented the Cavaliers in the mid-season classic. Cleveland won 25 more games than the year before and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for only the second time in the history of the franchise.

By the 1994-95 season, it was a new-look Cavalier club. The team had left the Coliseum for its new home, Gund Arena, the uniforms were different and Mike Fratello was in his second season. Brad Daugherty was out for the year and Larry Nance had retired. By the next year, Price was gone, too. At that point, the Cavaliers were now Terrell Brandon’s team, and he cemented that status by making his first All-Star appearance in the 1996 game in San Antonio. For the year, Brandon led the Cavaliers in scoring (19.3 ppg) and assists (6.5 apg) as the Cavaliers made their fifth straight trip to the playoffs.

In 1997, Brandon once again made the All-Star team and played before the home folks as Cleveland hosted the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Terrell Brandon averaged 19.5 ppg for Cleveland that year, his last in a Cavaliers uniform.

Terrell Brandon was traded to Milwaukee in the off-season where he had two successful seasons before ending his career with a successful four-year run alongside Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. He was especially effective in the playoffs for the Wolves, averaging 18 points per game.

Like his predecessor in Cleveland, recurring knee injuries cut the modest point guard’s career short. He averaged 12.4 ppg in his final year in the league and 13.8 for his career.

Known as one of the NBA’s nicest guys, Brandon, who now resides in his home state of Oregon, took a few minutes to talk with clevelandcavaliers.com and let his fans back in Cleveland know what he’s up to …

Clevelandcavaliers.com: Terrell, what have you been up to since retirement?
Terrell Brandon:
After I retired about three years ago, I’ve been back here in the city of Portland. I'm really taking care of my son and my family and staying in the neighborhood.

I grew up in northeast Portland. I have my businesses here. I still have my barbershop and my retail store – TB’s Place – sports apparel, jeans, Timberland boots and things of that nature, and my apartment complex.

CC.com: Have you ever thought about getting back into the league in a coaching or front office capacity?
I’d love to get back into the NBA. I’m just not sure if the coaching aspect would be in my interests, but definitely in some type of executive role. I’d love to get back. I feel like being a point guard taught me so much about running a team. So I feel that I do have a sense of what teams are looking for and what fans are looking for. I feel like I was a part of that for much of my career.

So hopefully in the near future, you’ll see me back on the sidelines or in commentary. I’ll definitely get there. I’m not ready right now to commit myself full-blown to it. But once I get my other ventures more established – maybe a year or two – I’ll definitely be ready.

CC.com: When you came back to the Gund for Hardwood Classic nights last year, you looked like you could still run the point. Do you play any hoops in Portland?
I haven’t played hoops since I hurt my knee in San Antonio when I was playing for the Timberwolves. I think that was 2000. Once I got traded (to Atlanta) they pretty much knew that my career was over. I tried so many times (to test the knee); I wasn’t going to give up. But I just couldn’t do it.

I still stay in shape. I’m playing tennis now. It’s a great way to stay in shape. I don’t have to go ‘up and down’ (laughs), it’s more side-to-side. It’s pretty strenuous, but now that I’ve stayed off of (the knee) for about three or four years, I’m feeling more confident and comfortable that I can move on the thing. And I’m feeling good. I’m looking forward to playing hoops. But I'm nervous about the knee.

Right now, I’m only 35 years old. It's funny, sports-wise, I can’t just go out there and play recreationally, going out there and just playing. My mind and my body won’t let me do that. I’m competitive. Once I’m able to compete without worrying about winning and losing – going out there and playing just to play – that’s the point I’m trying to get to and I haven’t gotten there yet.

I’m just as passionate on the tennis court as I was on the basketball court. And a lot of it is just, you know, balls I just can’t get to, I’m so competitive and hard-headed, that I’m trying to get to them anyway. (laughs) That puts a big strain on my body, so I probably just need to relax a little bit.

CC.com: How did you get into tennis?
I picked it up. I sprained my ankle in ’94 and I wanted to try something that would strengthen my ankle and was something new. I always drove by the tennis courts here in Northeast (Portland) and they were always packed. So one day, I went out there and started looking at their footwork. And I said, ‘Let me try this to see if it works for me.’ And it became more than footwork. I enjoyed tennis and started getting pretty good at it. So it was a combination of the two.

CC.com: Are you still able to follow the Cavaliers?
I am a Cavalier, so I’ll follow the Cavaliers until the day I die.

I was there six years. The Cavaliers are my love and Cleveland is my adopted hometown. So naturally, I was hyped last year when the Cavaliers were up to third or fourth in the Conference and things were going well. And then, when Paul got fired, things kid of went downhill. And, as a former player, even though I wasn’t playing, I felt it. Of course, I still have a strong passion for the Cavaliers.

Now we have a new coach and I think there’s some energy coming back to the Cavaliers. We have that superstar and we have a strong foundation. I’m really looking forward to watching them this year.

CC.com: You spent some years with Danny Ferry as a player and now he's the General Manager of the Cavaliers. How do you think he'll do?
You know, I’m biased because Danny was my pick-and-roll partner. (laughs)I was able to talk to him when he got the job and I passed my congratulations along to him. I think he’ll do a fantastic job.

I think he was very underrated in San Antonio, because that team had a lot of talent and he was one of the guys going overseas to scout that talent. He’s the one that scouted behind the scenes and didn't get a lot of the credit. (Spurs' coach Gregg) Popovich, he knows it’s the people not only in the forefront, but behind the scenes that are doing a lot of the work. And (Danny) has the respect from everybody. He’s got a really good business mind. And, of course, coming from Duke, his education is definitely an A+.

I think he’ll do a great job. And he’s got a great passion for the Cavaliers after playing with them for 10 years. It’s a different type of passion that most GMs don’t have.

CC.com: What are some of the lasting memories you have from your time in Cleveland?
I think the first time I arrived in Cleveland – actually Richfield. I had heard the stories about where Richfield was, but to actually drive through it (laughs) was totally different. So just to be in the middle of nowhere and to arrive in this great building and to see Larry Nance and Mark Price and Brad Daugherty and the rest of these great players, I had to wonder, ‘Will I fit in?’ So that’s one of the most memorable moments of my career, coming from Portland to Cleveland, Ohio and I was thrown to the wolves as if to say: ‘What are you going to do?’ And the first place I went was to the Richfield Coliseum and I looked up at the rafters and wondered if my number could be up there one day. I imagine most young players do that.

CC.com: Was it difficult making the transition from a star point guard at Oregon to backing up Mark Price when you first arrived?
No. It was very, very easy. Mark and I got along so well. (I think people wanted to make a controversy over us, but it wasn’t there.) I knew whose team it was. So it was easy to just sit back – even though I had the pressure of starting the first 16 games as a rookie because of Price’s injury – everyone knew it was his position. That’s what a backup’s role is: to assist the team and the starter.

And Lenny (Wilkens) taught me my role and he understood my role and he challenged me and said, “I want you to be the best backup point guard in the league.” And that meant a lot. I didn’t take it as an insult. I took it as being flattered to be in a position like that. And I wound up making the All-Rookie Team coming off the bench. Watching Mark every day – as well as going through picks by Brad and Larry and Hot Rod (Williams) – helped me out a lot.

CC.com: Is there a player in the NBA now that reminds you of the way you played?
A little bit of Mike Bibby, with his mid-range game. I’ve always admired him. And every so often, I’ll get a glimpse of his game and think, ‘Man, I used to do that.’

And then, not LeBron James in the sense of height or build, but if you go back to when I played he was a young boy, so you know he was watching the Cavaliers. And when he goes to the basket, when he switches to his left hand at the last second – I’m not taking credit for it (laughing) – but it just looks like a move I used to do when I played for the Cavaliers.

CC.com: If you could pass some wisdom from your 13-year career on to a young point guard or young player, what would it be?
I would say, first of all, ‘Love the game.’ Spend the time to get better. You have to spend the time getting better because it just doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, but take full advantage of your time. Because time goes by so fast, it’ll be gone before you know it. If you don’t appreciate what you’ve got when you’re there, you’ll spoil what God has given you.

Stay humble. Get your teammates involved. Especially if you’re a point guard. Get people involved. Be unselfish. Don’t feel that scoring has to be your ticket to popularity or wealth. Being a solid point guard gets you respect and respect sometimes means so much more than anything else.