Published November 20, 2014
The draft decision helped define both men in harsh terms: Michael Jordan was a failed executive, Kwame Brown a bust as a player.
Now, nine years after Jordan took Brown with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, they're reuniting in hopes of shedding both labels.
The Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats on Monday came to terms with Brown on a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $1.3 million. Agent Mark Bartelstein said Brown will sign on Tuesday.
"A really interesting story," Bartelstein said. "Instead of running away from the shadow of Michael Jordan, he kind of embraced it."
While the Bobcats need help in the middle after trading Tyson Chandler to Dallas last month, Brown would seemingly be the last center Jordan would turn to as he begins his first full season as majority owner.
Jordan was running the Washington Wizards in 2001 when he took the 6-foot-11 Brown straight out of high school with the first pick. The Georgia teenager wasn't ready for the NBA, and Jordan was labeled as another superstar player unfit to run a team.
Jordan was fired from the Wizards in 2003, shortly after a comeback as a player. The Hall of Famer returned to the NBA three years later as part-owner of the Bobcats with the final say on basketball decisions. Jordan bought the team outright in the spring.
The 28-year-old Brown has bounced around the league with little success. He averaged 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 48 games with Detroit last season. He's averaged 6.7 points and 5.4 rebounds with four teams over nine seasons, including two stints with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jordan couldn't be reached on Monday, and Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Bartelstein said his client was intrigued about playing for Charlotte coach Larry Brown because he has a "great history of teaching and developing players."
Larry Brown, who led the Bobcats to their first playoff berth last season, has always been intrigued with long, athletic shot-blockers who can play multiple positions.
It may be Kwame Brown's last chance to show just that.
"We felt this was a critical year for him to kind of rebuild his career," Bartelstein said. "He had a couple tough years. There were a lot of expectations and things didn't go exactly the way he had hoped. So now it was about making a really good choice.
"There has been so much criticism in the past about him and Michael and the way it didn't work out the first time in Washington. I think that was a really a challenge for Kwame, to come back and turn that around."
The move comes as the Bobcats still have to make a decision with center Erick Dampier, acquired in the deal for Chandler. Dampier has a non-guaranteed contract worth $13 million next season. The Bobcats have been leaning toward waiving him to clear much-needed salary-cap space.