Greg Brown III Strives To Be Different In The Air

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers rookie Greg Brown III wakes up thinking about dunking. The 6-9 forward in his first season out of Texas hasn’t had many opportunities to get on the court during the first month of his professional career, but that hasn’t blunted his enthusiasm nor his imagination.

So when he got out of bed Tuesday morning and while he was sitting on the bench 12 hours later during Portland’s 119-100 victory versus the Nuggets, Brown was considering what he might do should he get the chance to step on the court in a nationally-televised contest.

“I was just thinking about it the whole game,” said Brown. “I just do it when I wake up. Wake up, between the legs, so it’s kind of second nature for me.”

What is “second nature” for Brown is now the stuff of legend in Rip City.

With just under a minute to play in Tuesday’s game, Brown stole a Petr Cornelie pass, streaked down the court and finished with a between-the-legs dunk, known more specifically as the “East Bay Funk” dunk, much to the delight of fans still remaining at Moda Center and to the dismay of Denver’s bench.

“I was trying to get that all night, I’m trying to get some steals,” said Brown. ‘But then when I finally got it I was like, ‘Okay, time for something.’ And then, just a random thought said ‘Between the legs’ and I just went with it.’

While the dunk didn’t have an effect on the final outcome, the high degree of difficulty and the rarity of seeing such an attempt in-game became the story of the night in the NBA. The dunk was viewed by hundreds of thousands watching on TNT and by millions on social media, resulting in an avalanche of texts and mentions for the rookie forward. But it was the reaction of those closest to Brown that meant the most.

‘It was crazy. My dad, he was excited,” said Brown. “He called me and was like ‘Finally! Finally!’ because he’s seen me do it all the time, he knows I can do it. So it was just a great thing for him seeing me do it on TV.”

Then there was CJ McCollum, who called the dunk “very impressive” in part due to Brown’s ability to pull off such a dunk despite sitting the bench for the better part of the previous two hours.

“For CJ to say that’s really impressive, that actually means a lot to me because CJ is a really good player,” said Brown. “I look up to him, look up to Dame, look up to all the rest of the vets, so hearing him say that really touched me. It really motivated me just to keep going and keep being myself.”

Part of “being himself” for Brown is, as Lillard put it, being “different in the air.”

“A lot of people are different on the ground,” said Brown. “Like, Dame and CJ, they’re different on the ground, they do a lot of crazy moves, make big shots. Take that and just put it in the air and that’s who I am.”


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