Shannon Brown appreciates time with the Lakers
Strolling the Staples Center hallways brought back a flood of memories for Shannon Brown.
How he collected two NBA championships in his time with the Lakers. How his time there helped him develop as a player. How he still shares a kinship with an older mentor in Kobe Bryant or a reserve sidekick in Matt Barnes.
But as a Phoenix Suns guard, Brown refused to look up at the banners as he prepared at the team's morning shootaround Tuesday before its game with the Lakers. On a night that would bring plenty of conflicted feelings, Brown didn't want to further spark his emotions.
But then a fan approached Brown outside Staples Center with a picture of him holding the Lakers' championship trophy after beating the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals.
"I definitely reflected," Brown said. "I know everybody was watching me too so I definitely tried not to do stuff too out of the ordinary."
In the Lakers' eventual 99-83 victory Tuesday over the Phoenix Suns, Brown managed to keep his cool early in the first quarter when the Staples Center Jumbotron featured a Brown highlight footage, followed by a message, "Thanks Shannon" while music from "Welcome Back, Kotter" played over the loudspeakers. Brown couldn't help but smile at the ovation he received from the announced crowd of 18,993.
Such sentimental feelings temporarily took a backseat. Bryant said before he didn't look forward to matching up against Brown because he viewed him as his "little brother." But then Bryant dropped a league-season high 48 points. Several of those came against Brown, including a baseline fadeaway that threw him off-balance and a three-point play that faked Brown into the air as Bryant shot a jumper. In turn, Brown scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter in hopes to give the Suns a lift.
"I know Kobe. I know once the ball is thrown in the air, it's time to go out there and play. He might think about it for a second. But he's going to try to get at me if I'm guarding him and vice versa," Brown correctly predicted before the game. "In that situation, no matter who wins the game, you have deep-rooted situations that went on for three years that nobody can ever break."
Even if there remains varying reasons that led to Brown's departure.
Brown signed a one-year, $3.5-million contract with the Suns last month because it was "the best situation for me, my family and my basketball career." The Lakers stopped pursuing him after he opted out of his $2.37-million contract because of his heavier price tag and his inconsistent performance last season. He averaged 8.7 points per game average on 42.5% shooting.
The Lakers feel Brown's loss in the short term, as the team's bench has hardly compensated for the void Lamar Odom and Brown left. The Lakers will probably be fine in the long term because Brown's current marks of 8.6 points on 33.8% shooting shows he's hardly improved in his shooting.
But that's neither here nor there.
When Brown joined the Lakers in 2009, he felt he finally found somewhere stable to develop as a player after bouncing around the league. Teammates loved his positive attitude and work ethic. And fans of course cherished the thunderous dunks he provided.
"I'm very appreciative of how I came here and I was immediately able to make an impact on what was going on," Brown said. "Everybody welcomed me with open arms. Two championships later, I'm just grateful and thankful."
-- Mark Medina
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