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Mr. In-Between

As a first name. “Devin” is unusual, although not rare. Kind of in-between. “Brown” is cliché-common; put it after Devin, though, and it no longer sounds so ordinary. Rather in-between.

Undrafted out of the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) in 2002, Devin Brown split the 2002-2003 season between the NBA (10 games with San Antonio and Denver) and the NBA D League. A pattern emerges.

Arriving in Cleveland by way of San Antonio, Denver, Utah, the Golden State and New Orleans, Joe Gabriele struggled to define Devin’s skill sets:

The Cavaliers’ second unit has its pretty boy shooters like Boobie Gibson, Damon Jones and Wally Szczerbiak. And its got a lunchpail crew who can get down and dirty, with guys like Anderson Varejao, Joe Smith and Dwayne Jones.

And then there’s Devin Brown – somewhere in-between. (Source: Cavs.com)

Devin first played professional basketball for the Kansas Cagerz in 2002. During his rookie year he averaged 17.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and was honored with the United States Basketball League (USBL) Rookie of the Year award. He was, of course, between his amateur high school/college life and his soon-to-be NBA career.


The San Antonio Spurs invited Devin to attend their 2002 summer training camp. A portent of dubious management choices throughout Devin’s basketball life, the Spurs signed and waived, resigned and re-waived him within a two and a half month period (9/30/2002 – 11/19/2002).


The Denver Nuggets decided they wanted to play, too, and on April 4, 2003, they signed Devin to a 10-day contract; he soon became a free agent and was signed by the Spurs in August. Patella tendonitis caused him to miss the first six games of the season and a costochondral separation sidelined him for the final three.Little did Devin know he wasn’t really with the Spurs, he was between teams. The Utah Jazz presented a restricted free agent offer sheet in September of 2005, which the Spurs did not match, and Devin was signed as a free agent by Utah two weeks later.

Little did Devin know he wasn’t really with Utah, he was between teams again as the Jazz shoved him, Keith McLeod and Andre Owens out the door in exchange for Derek Fisher in July of ’06. The Golden State Warriors welcomed the trio with open arms on July 12th and waived bye-bye to Devin in October.

[Devin] was prepared to report for training camp with the Warriors in early October before being told hours before camp opened that Golden State decided to waive him.

“As soon as the trade happened, we tried talking to Golden State about, ‘There’s a lot of guards — let us know right now what’s going to happen,’” said Brown, a Utah native. “Everything was fine, then all of a sudden I get a phone call at 7:30 in the morning before the first practice that they were gonna do what they did. It was kind of like, ‘Well, I mean, you should have let us know this in July.’ ” (Source: Deseret Morning News)

Devin’s buyout clause left him with $500,000 of his contracted $2.6 million salary. The money allowed him to wait while his agent aggressively pursued another NBA opportunity; in December of 2006 he signed with the Hornets.

Devin settled in and began his usual community fund-raising only to find himself traded to Cleveland on September 29, 2007 for a one-year contract.

Donning a Cavs uniform, I can only imagine what Devin was thinking. Every team he played for spoke highly of his skills, on and off the court. Starting with South San West Campus High School in San Antonio, where he:

  • Still holds the record as all-time high scorer (2,763 points in 3 years)
  • Had his jersey retired

to the University of Texas at San Antonio where he:

  • Is still the all-time leading scorer in Roadrunners history
  • Led UTSA in scoring all four years
  • Earned First Team All-Southland Conference honors in each of his final three seasons
  • Was named Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1999 after leading the Roadrunners to a second NCAA Tournament berth
  • Recorded the only triple-double in school history as a junior
  • Is the first player in school history to have his jersey retired (#23 on February 12, 2004)

to the USBL, NBDL and the NBA, Devin was praised:

USBL

“Devin is the kind of player who can change the game in so many ways,” [head coach Tim] Carter said. Not only can he score and rebound with the best of them, it’s a lot of the little things like assists, steals and good court decisions which have helped us to be successful.”

NBDL

Devin Brown, the 2003 NBDL Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year, continued to turn heads with his stellar play in the Reebok Pro Summer League in Boston.

NBA

Tim Duncan on Devin’s Performance during the 2005 NBA finals – no pressure, but more than 3.1 billion people around our little global basketball nation were expected to watch the game:

. . . one of the greatest finishes in National Basketball Association history, and perhaps the deciding moment in this Western Conference semifinal series, was at stake.

That’s when the game turned. Devin Brown, an unknown Spurs reserve who was playing in the minor leagues last season [Editor's note - emphasis added], scored 11 third-quarter points to cut the Lakers’ lead to 9 entering the fourth.

”He was the turning point,” said Duncan, who had 21 points and 21 rebounds. ”He came in and really changed the game for us.” (Source: NY Times)

Pop Freaks Out; Praises Wrong Man

Lakers beat the Spurs . . . San Antonio was so out of sorts afterward, Coach Gregg Popovich mistakenly referred to his reserve, Devin Brown, as Devean George, the Lakers’ starting small forward.

”I thought we had one guy play well, and he’s not a starter,” Popovich said. ”That was Devean George. I can’t think of another player who had a good game. Did I say Devean George? He’s on the other team. I meant Devin Brown on our team. I told you we were discombobulated.” (Source: NY Times)

Spurs Fan

Devin Brown is a very motivated and competitive player.

I will never forget his face when the Spurs lost to the Lakers last year and the great effort and heart he showed in games five and six.

Come on Pop throw him in there for more minutes!!!

Spurs Fan #2

The Spurs absolutely MUST go to Devin Brown, early and often. If Brent so much as coughs up a turnover, yank him and put Devin in.

Jazz

Bob Hyde (Jazz Vice President) – . . . we’re very pleased with the great gentleman and citizen we get in Devin Brown. He has a great track record in his activities in the community; this past weekend he was raising funds for the victims of hurricane Katrina. So we’re pleased to have somebody with that kind of character and great citizenship as well.

Kevin O’Connor (Jazz VP Basketball Operations) – . . . what Devin has brought to us is toughness . . . To tell you a story from three years ago . . . we had Walt Perrin (Jazz Director of Player Personnel) go watch an NBDL game, and when he completed his rounds he said Devin Brown is the guy we should bring in. But San Antonio had signed him earlier that day. We were just about 24 hours behind three years ago. But things come around and we’re thrilled to have him on board. (Source: NBA.com)

Hornets

“He helped save the season,” [Byron] Scott said of Brown . . .”He helped give us a chance to be in a position to still have a chance to make the playoffs.

Cavs

Plain Dealer comments after The Big Trade (which did not involve Devin):

The specific contributions of [Devin] Brown and Eric Snow were almost overlooked with the arrival of the newcomers and the short-handed Cavs’ gutty win over the visiting Wizards on Friday night.

“Devin was spectacular,” coach Brown said. (Source: Cleveland.com)

Mike Brown

“He’s [Devin] played most of the year with a broken finger and never said a word about it.”

”He keeps sticking his nose in there. It’s huge for us to have a guy like him. He brings energy off the bench. At times, that’s needed. He’s a veteran with a great feel for the game. It doesn’t matter if it’s two minutes or 20 minutes, he comes to play.”

“. . . He was the type of character guy we wanted to have around here.” (Source: Morning Journal)

So why all the shuffling of team cards? Why the deceit (Golden State, once so esteemed in this humble blogger’s opinion)?

To understand why a Good Person is Treated Badly, we need to look at the in-betweens of Devin’s life:

The Shoes
In-Between a Crummy Shoe and a Nike

Devin Brown is no one. At least, that’s what his shoe company thinks of him. Brown gets double takes from fans and even fellow players all across the country when they stare at his feet and his New Balance basketball shoes.

Yes, Brown tells the many who ask, New Balance makes basketball shoes. And, according to the company, uses no one to sell them. The Boston-based shoe company, popular with runners, is known for its slogan: ”Endorsed by No One.”

The Adorable Face
In-between Charlie Brown and Usher

. . . the winner of the player of the week award goes to Devin Brown . . . Yes, the Devin Brown whose head came from the set of a Charlie Brown cartoon . . . (Source: Give Me The Rock)

Devin Brown looks like Usher, just a little bit. (Source: Real Cavs Fans Forum)

comparison-shot.JPG

The Star
In-between a bud and a bloom

. . . Devin Brown, a budding star for the Spurs . . .

Devin Brown, not a budding star by any means, is a good answer for that going into the season.

The Enforcer
In-between LeBron and the overzealous MSG fan

“Out of the corner of my eye, I just saw him running. He was going straight to LeBron and LeBron was standing right behind me, so I tried to keep him back because he was coming pretty good. I just wanted to make sure he didn’t have any (weapons) in his hands. I just gave him a forearm. (The fan) said ‘What’s up’ to him and shook his hand, and security got to him.” (Source: Pass The Word)

The Private Man
In-between Here and There

I was going to private school and I used to go up there [undefined] and play with all the public kids and [high school coach Ray Carroll ] said, ‘You live in this District? Because you need to come over here.’ (Source: NBA.com)

The Ebb and Flow
In-between a dunker and a Dunkin’

Spurs – “. . . in San Antonio, I dunked over Emeka Okafor of Charlotte . . . he rotated over and jumped, but I went right over the top of him.”

Cavs – A running gag . . . has been swingman Devin Brown’s dunks . . .”When he first got here, he was a little overweight,” Coach Brown said. ”It was not much. He looked a little like me. But he couldn’t quite make it over the rim with the basketball in his pre-camp workouts.” For the record, Devin Brown said he showed up to training camp at 235 pounds. He said he lost between 15-20 pounds and now weighs about 215.

Editor’s Note – Proof:

”He dunked one (Saturday in practice), and it looked easy,” Coach Brown said. ”He gets his big ol’ paws and wraps them around the ball, stretches his long arm out, takes off on one foot, it’s equivalent to Air Jordan, except the New Balance logo is different than Nike’s. … It might be my glasses. I don’t know.” [Editor’s note – don’t get me started on Mike’s 97 pairs of glasses.] (Source: Morning Journal)

The “Take One For The Team” Guy
In-between an NCAA fan and the Cavs

The LeBron show was also in town, and the Cavs were staying five blocks away at the normal NBA hotel. . . I walked down to the Cavs hotel just to see what was going on. I was told that LeBron had walked onto the bus, giving nothing more than a wave . . . Devin Brown signed for everyone . .

The Rotation Dream
In-between big and small, guard and forward

. . . a brilliant career as a swingman. . .

. . . swingman and Utah native Devin Brown

The 6-foot-5 Cavaliers swingman . . .

Devin Brown can defend four positions and routinely plays three, including point guard.

The Mediator
In-between a team and its owner

. . . Jazz owner Larry Miller unleashed an expletive-filled tirade toward his team during a timeout after Utah had been outscored 18-8 in the third quarter. “He was vocal in the fact that he spends money on our team, and he wants us to play hard,” guard Devin Brown was quoted in the Deseret News. “We need to play harder.” (Source: Daily Herald)

The Crazed Gentleman
In-between a “thank you, ma’am” and a chair slap

Devin Brown is one of the nicest guys I’ve met in the NBA . . . Lang Whitaker, SLAM

In the game, he’ll bite, scratch, claw and pull at his opponent to gain the upper hand . . . Bob Finnan, Morning Journal

The Man Without a State
In-between Texas and Utah

Born in Ogden, Utah, Devin’s parents moved to San Antonio when he was two months old. Most people think of Devin as being from Texas; not true, when the Utah Jazz signed him on, it was a homecoming:

“We’re so tickled we can hardly stand up,” said Grandma Dee.

The Man of Too Many Loves
In-between Sports

Devin lettered in basketball, baseball, golf and track in high school.

There’s nothing in-between about Devin’s record breaking abilities. On January 23, 2002, Devin bested Derrik Gervin’s all-time USTA scoring record; yes, that Gervin. Derrick had to go home and explain it to big brother George.

Or his charitable inclinations. According to his Hornets bio, Devin helped collect and distribute food and donations for Hurricane Katrina victims; hosts a basketball camp in San Antonio in off-season; is the honorary commissioner of the Spurs/Pizza Hut Drug-Free Youth Basketball League, in which he participated as a child.

Devin packs this attribute in his suitcase every time he moves:

“We are so grateful for Devin Brown,” said Larry Jones, president and co-founder of Feed The Children. “Four hundred families in Cleveland will receive food because of this generous gift of kindness. We send our most sincere ‘Thank you!’ to Devin!” (Source: NBA.com)

There’s so much more to Devin – did you know:

  • He’s a comic:

Devin Brown took the blame when the lights went out for a moment during his news conference Wednesday.

“Sorry. I was shooting a little bit earlier,” quipped Brown, who signed a two-year deal with the Utah Jazz. (Source: USA Today)

  • He spends his per diem on non-food items:

Jazz guard Devin Brown . . . bragged that his December per diem funded 30 new DVDs for his collection.” (Sourc: Sports Filter)

  • He doesn’t read any magazine unless it’s about golf . . . Robert Horry.
  • He won NBA championships in 2003 and 2005 with the Spurs.
  • He was already in Utah when the official 2004-2005 diamond-studded Playoff Championship ring ceremony was held. Devin received his when Utah played the Spurs on April 17, 2006; Tim Duncan presented the ring.
  • He knows how to talk to a ref. He should, he learned from the best:

“Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) would say at the beginning of the season, ‘There are only a couple guys that I want talking to the refs, and one of the guys is Robert Horry,’ ” Brown said. “One of the reasons he did that is because of the way (Horry) did it. So, you kind of learn from that.

“You kind of go up, say, ‘(Whatever the ref’s name is), hey, you missed that one,’ pat him on the butt and move on. Not, just constantly, ‘Hey man, you missed this one and you missed this and you missed this one.’ After that, the ref’s not going to give you anything. I mean, I’ve seen that quite a bit, where guys complain and complain and complain, and they’re not getting anything. But a guy will just walk up and say one thing and walk away and leave it at that, and the next thing you know he gets a couple calls.” (Source: Deseret News)

  • His favorite road trip is to Dallas:

“It’s a fun town, they have some very good restaurants and sushi places. I’m a real big sushi guy.”

  • Danny Ferry was a player when Devin attended the Spurs training camp in 2002 and Mike Brown was an assistant coach. Mike recalls Devin’s car:

He did not have sideview mirrors because they had gotten knocked off,” Mike Brown said. “I remember he couldn’t afford sideview mirrors, he couldn’t afford a new car.” (Source: Canton Repository)

  • Devin shares his favorites in all sorts of categories in the Cavs “Pick ‘Em” column
  • Devin shares a birthday with LeBron James.
  • Devin appears in 13 Wikipedia categories.

Devin eludes categorization and certain people hate that. So much easier to deal with someone who stays in their box. Personally, this puts him on my “most want to meet” list. When I’m in-between blog posts, that is.

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Carolyn Hastings is an NBA-obsessed, Cavalier devotee who lives and works in Shaker Heights and dreams of the Q. She also writes for her blog And One.

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