April 06, 2005
John Molori's Media Blitz
BY: John Molori
- Dee gets an A
Former Celtic Brown gets his “Dream Job”
Dee Brown was Dee Brown before Dee Brown. While the University of Illinois guard electrified the nation in leading his team to the 2005 NCAA Finals, the first Dee Brown was a 1990 Celtics first round draft pick and 1991 NBA Slam Dunk Champion. Both men have a habit of pleasing the crowd.
The former Celtic’s latest command performance was on ESPN’s “Dream Job.” The most recent incarnation of that program had Brown battling fellow ex-NBA players Matt Bullard, Darryl Dawkins, Gerald Wilkins, Dennis Scott and J.R. Reid for a chance to become an ESPN studio analyst. Brown’s entrance into this competition was involuntary.
“They called and asked me,” says the former Jacksonville standout. “ I was working in the Orlando Magic front office and had done some fill-in radio and TV games. I guess ESPN got wind that I was pretty good.”
What started as a whim has turned into a new career path for Brown. He states, “I thought that I would have some fun with it. I was never trying to get a job in broadcasting. (Celtics PR chief) Jeff Twiss told me that I should get into television, but I had too much on my plate. I will say this. “Dream Job” brought me back to competition. You just don’t get that once you retire.”
The competition brought out the best in Brown who, despite some harsh first show criticism from judges Al Jaffe and Stephen A. Smith, was head and shoulders above his NBA brethren.
“After the first show, I had a feel for what they wanted,” says Brown who played for Toronto and Orlando in addition to Boston. “I bring a lot of knowledge to the table as a guy who played in the NBA, coached in the WNBA and worked in an NBA front office. I am a perfectionist. I didn’t just want to win. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this.”
Brown relates the judges’ criticisms to his early days as a Celtic. “ My first year in Boston, I thought my name was “Rook.” (Ex-Celtic coach) Chris Ford was much tougher on me than Stephen A. Smith could ever be, but I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.
“I played with the Big 3 (Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale) and then was the link between them, Antoine Walker and the Rick Pitino era. When I go to Boston, they roll out the red carpet for me. I’ll always be remembered as a Celtic.”
The finals of “Dream Job” pitted Brown against Bullard. Brown says that content made the difference. “To be the best analyst, I have to give information that fans can’t get on their own, stuff that only a player, coach and executive would know. I have to tell them why something happened on the court.”
The “Dream Job” formula forces players to assimilate a lot of data in a short period of time. Says Brown, “They throw a bunch of stuff at us. We get the info on Sunday, then do a few hours of research before doing the show on Sunday night.”
As with any analyst, Brown had to resist the temptation to emulate others. He states, “I am Dee Brown, not Stephen A. Smith. I thought of using clichés or catch phrases, but that’s not me. I know (ESPN analysts) Greg Anthony and Tim Legler but did not speak to them on purpose.
“I talked to (Boston Globe writer) Peter May and my friend Charles Davis who has worked for Fox and TNT. May told me to be sure to have up to date facts. Charles told me to look at the camera, be animated and let the video speak for itself.”
While Brown seeks to make his mark as an analyst, as a player, he did just that by pumping up his Reebok sneakers during the memorable 1991 Slam Dunk competition. “I had no plans to do that,” recalls the 36 year-old Brown. “ Larry Bird and Kevin McHale encouraged me leading into the competition.
“They were telling me what dunks to try. I told them that neither of them had dunked in ten years. After the competition, I was at the hotel with Bird and a group of fans ran past him to get to me. Bird told them, ‘Shoot like me, but dunk like Dee.’ Then, he made me carry his bags to his room.”
Brown’s dunking made him a household name, but his 12-year career was based on learning. He states, “I can relate to every facet of the game. I was a starter, a Celtics captain, a sixth man and I’ve been injured. I was never the best player on the court. That’s what made me a good coach.
“Guys like Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson were so great that they are not the best teachers. (Current Timberwolves coach) McHale told me that he can’t wait to get out of coaching and get back upstairs. Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, these were role players who learned a lot and can teach.”
Brown says he will make his ESPN debut as a studio analyst in a week. Just as he was at the Slam Dunk Competition, he is, well, pumped. “I can’t wait to get started and I am looking forward to calling out Stephen A. Smith when he is wrong!”
For those of you quivering with hockey withdrawal, ESPN networks have complete coverage of the NCAA Men’s Hockey Frozen Four from the campus of Ohio State University.
Thursday’s semifinals will be on ESPN2 and feature Colorado College vs. Denver at 2:00 p.m. and North Dakota vs. Minnesota at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, the Championship game is on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. Thanks to the NHL lockout, ESPN’s pro hockey broadcasters par excellence Gary Thorne and Bill Clement will have the call.
Even with no New England entries, the Frozen Four promises to be hockey heaven. It consistently provides great television thrills, from the 1998 overtime battle between Boston College and Michigan to Maine and UNH going to OT in 1999 to a pair of amazing finals pitting BC vs. North Dakota in 2000 and 2001 to last year’s 1-0 Denver win over Maine.
It’s a must-see for hockey fans looking for something on which to hang their skates.
When CBS televises The Masters (third and fourth round coverage, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.), the best talents in golf will be holding microphones, not clubs. Jim Nantz is simply the best at setting the scene and calling the shots. Lanny Wadkins, Bobby Clampett and golf’s best analyst, David Feherty, are superb, and Peter Oosterhuis, Verne Lundquist, Peter Kostis and Bill Macatee bring data with dignity. All this, plus Dick Enberg with essays and interviews. Pop a cold one and enjoy.
Legendary on-camera presence Bob Costas again re-invents himself with “Costas Now” debuting May 13 at 9:00 p.m. on HBO. Costas has deftly walked that fine line between success and overexposure, but he remains utterly watchable. His new show will combine edgy reporting, slick commentary and humor with one eyebrow raised. Bring it on.
Beyond the incredible local ratings on UPN38 (17.6 rating), the Red Sox-Yankees opener did a 2.7 nationally with an average household viewership of 2,396,000 homes, the highest rated and most viewed regular season Major League Baseball telecast ever on ESPN2.
John Molori’s Media Blitz column is published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, The Lowell Sun, Patriots Football Weekly, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, PatsFans.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, RedSoxNation.net and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.
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