The Springfield Armor announced the hiring of Dee Brown as the first coach in franchise history. Brown, a 12-year NBA veteran who started his career with the Boston Celtics, earned NBA All-Rookie team honors and won the 1991 NBA slam dunk title. More recently, Brown served as the head coach of the WNBAís Orlando Miracle, followed by positions at ESPN and as the community ambassador for the Orlando Magic. He took some time to talk to NBA.com prior to the Armorís announcement about his new role in Springfield.
Q: What made you want to get into coaching? What about the NBA Development League appealed to you?
Brown: I was a head coach in the WNBA for a couple of years, and Iíve always had a passion for coaching, but more a passion for developing talent and evaluating talent. Being back in Massachusetts is also great. Itís where I started my career as a pro basketball player, and to be able to come back here and help these guys start their basketball careers on the way to the NBA is great. Itís a brand new franchise thatís looking for a basketball person thatís touched a lot of avenues. Iíve been in the front office, I was a player for 12 years, and I was a coach in the past, so Iíve had the whole spectrum of what these players are going to hear from executives and GMs. The NBA D-League is right up what I like to doódevelop players on and off the court and give them an opportunity to hear from a person whoís been there and done what they are going to see and experience.
Q: What will you draw upon from your previous coaching experience?
Brown: This is a unique situation, because youíre working with three affiliates. Youíve got to have a discussion with those three teams and see the types of things they work on. You canít put everybodyís entire system in what you want to do, but youíre going to talk to the head coaches and executives about things they want to focus on. A lot of what Iím using in my coaching is from what Iíve experienced as a player. So my job as a coach here is to make sure that every time they step on the court, they have a good opportunity to showcase what they do.
Q: How will your experiences as a player help you relate to the players you will be coaching?
Brown: My experience is pretty similar. Coming out of high school, I wasnít a McDonaldís All-American, I didnít go to a large college--I went to Jacksonville University--and I was afraid I wasnít even going to be drafted coming out of college. I played in a lot of the showcase events in the summertime, and all the scouts were watching me play the top players that were coming out that year. I had to be prepared and ready for the opportunity when it came, and I worked my way up to be a first-round pick. You donít need 30 teams to look, you only need one, but you never know which one that is. All of these guys in the NBA D-League are talents, thereís no question, but sometimes itís about being in the right place at the right time.
Q: What does it mean to you to be the first coach in franchise history?
Brown: Itís special, because they put a lot of trust in you starting the franchise and developing talent. Iíve got great relationships with all of the coaches and executives with our affiliates, so it makes you feel good that they put that responsibility on you, and I love it. I cherish being put in that situation. There will be ups and downs, but weíre going to work hard and Iím going to get after it. I wasnít the first pick in the draft, but I can be the first coach for the Armor.
Q: What are your expectations for yourself, the players, and the team in your first year?
Brown: My expectation is for our team to lead the league in call-ups. Thatís what you want. If youíre doing your job and putting a great product out there and developing players, you want your players to leave. Now is that good for my record? Probably not. At the end of the day, do I want to win an NBA D-League championship? Of course. In this environment, you want as many guys as possible to get showcased and looked at the right way, and experience what you did as a player. We want to consistently be a strong team with a lot of guys getting the opportunity to move up and stay up in the NBA.
Q: What role do you foresee yourself having in the community?
Brown: You want to give back and [for] your kids to see what hard work and dedication is. You want people to see our players and staff in the community doing a lot of things. Because Iíve done it as a position in the NBA, I know that Read to Achieve and NBA Cares translates to this level, too. Once you get the community and local leaders behind you, you build a great fan base and it gets the player excited. Itís always a great feeling to walk into an arena thatís at capacity.
Q: Is there an advantage to having the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame so close?
Brown: Itís big. This is the birthplace of basketball, so youíre going to have a lot of people excited about basketball here. The Hall of Fame is right across the street from the MassMutual Center, and coaching across the street will probably be the closest I get to the Hall of Fame unless I buy a ticket. Thereís one degree of separation from being an NBA player. It shows the players where the ultimate pinnacle isówhere the top is. The top is right across the street. The place you play every night is where youíre starting. But if you can say after your career that Iím in that building across the street, thatís huge. You can see all the great history of basketball and you canít hide from it. Hopefully, we can be a part of Springfield just like the Hall of Fame.
Q: As a former NBA slam dunk champion, who do you think is the most exciting dunker in the NBA D-League?
Brown: I remember seeing James White when he was in high school. To me, heís probably a top-five dunker regardless of league. Heís that explosive. They call him ďFlightĒ for a reason. If James gets the chance to get into a dunk contest in the NBA--I donít care if LeBron James is in it--that guy will give LeBron a run for his money. James White is the deal.