By Paul M. Banks
Chicagoans watching the NBA on Christmas Day may struggle to find something of local interest in the headliner Cavaliers-Lakers game (Bulls fans, Cleveland or the Evil Empire? No love there). But there is local product and former Michigan St. Spartan Shannon Brown who’s finding his best days professionally in Los Angeles. I had an exclusive with Brown during his recent “Homecoming” game in Chicago.
“Last time I spent $5 thousand on tickets, I said I wouldn’t do that no more, so my coaches on and teammates helped me out a lot. It’s home for me,” Brown said about playing in Chicago again. On this night Brown contributed 9 points on a perfect 4-4 from the field in 20 minutes of playing time. He received a lot of applause and cheers each time he scored from many in the United Center crowd.
Brown suited up a few games for the Bulls in 2008 when he got traded (along with Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, and Cedric Simmons) to Chicago in midseason, but he received very little playing time. “I got a lot of respect for the Bulls organization for giving me a shot,” he said.
Brown got next to no playing time in Chicago, but in L.A. that all changed. Although he got very little time as a Laker initially, he started getting more time down the stretch, even more in the postseason and eventually earned a world championship ring. And this year, he’s averaging career highs in minutes and points.
Brown is renowned for possessing one of the highest vertical leaps in the league, verified at 44.5 inches, and is working on taking his game to the next level. “The summer is the best time for that, because you can really break your game down individually. It’s a matter of continuing to get wiser about what the NBA’s about,” Brown responded when I asked him what he’s working on specifically to improve his game.
Brown attended Proviso East High School in Maywood, where his teammates included fellow 2006 draftee and Illini legend Dee Brown (no, they are not of relations).
To see where Shannon Brown figures on the Michigan State all-decade team click here
In ‘03, Shannon was named Illinois Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American. He did his college balling at Michigan State, where he was second-team All-Big Ten as a junior and an All-Big Ten Defensive selection. I asked him about what he learned under Coach Tom Izzo in East Lansing. “About running plays, how to execute in the half court and the fast break,” he responded. Brown was drafted 25th overall by Cleveland in ’06.
The MSU legend of MSU legends of Magic Johnson attended the Bulls-Lakers game, and was also in house earlier this year when the Bulls hosted Milwaukee (and former Spartans Scott Skiles and Charlie Bell)
“We’re like a family, It’s all Michigan St. love, Michigan St. support when we get together,” Brown said.