Kwame, King of the ClapBack
Like most celebrity beefs, I tend to ignore them, and typically dismiss the viral chatter as simply click bait. However, it’s clear that former NBA baller, Kwame Brown has a lot to say, and he’s definitely reclaiming his time (a’ la Maxine Waters). Since being roasted by former NBA players, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s podcast, “All The Smoke,” as a laughing stock and an overall bust, Kwame has emerged from the rubble of his disappointing NBA career to spit flames at his haters, that would put Godzilla to shame!
When Brown was initially drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2001, as the number one overall pick, straight out of high school, the expectations were clearly elevated. Michael Jordan, who was the Wizards’ President, oversaw and approved the drafting of Brown at the time.
Jordan’s clout and his NBA legacy were definitely favorable towards Brown’s evaluation and career prospects, however, there were constant rumors that Jordan quickly grew disappointed with Brown, and routinely chastised the 19 year old.
Brown also recently called out Doug Collins, his former coach with the Wizards, as being too quick to blame him for mistakes and failing to support him as a young player in the league.
As part of my research for this article, I Googled Kwame’s career numbers and they are indeed awful. Brown enjoyed a 12-year career in the NBA, but only averaged more than 10 points per game once, during his playing days. From 2003–2004, Kwame had his best numbers, averaging 10.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg. Despite his underwhelming numbers, the Wizards offered him a contract extension worth $30M over 5 years.
Brown rejected the extension and tested the free agency market, but was eventually traded to the Lakers, where he was often injured and ridiculed as one of the biggest bust in NBA history.
Brown was fortunate to earn over $64M during his career, but he could never escape the disappointment of his overhyped career projections. Like most underachieving professional athletes, Brown faded into memory, after his early retirement at the age of 32 — that’s until he was recently ridiculed on the Barnes’ and Jackson’s popular podcast.
Brown clapped back at Barnes specifically, calling him “Becky with the good hair..” and recently referred to Barnes as emotionally unstable and unable to “keep a woman.” But wait there’s more! Brown also “ethered” Stephen Jackson by calling him a “boy” who needs to put down the blunt, pull up his pants and act like a man.
Like most, I was shocked at the visceral comeback, Brown displayed a raw and unfiltered rebuttal to his former fellow ballers. Many joke memes have sprung up on social media, suggesting that Brown should have shown that same intensity on the court!
Kwame also recently called out ESPN superstar, Stephen A. Smith via his Youtube channel. During a nearly 30-minute post, Brown in his laid back delivery and down-home swagger, often punctuated with profanity, attempts to eviscerate Stephen A., for being an ESPN puppet, and criticized him for showing a reel of Kwame’s “lowlights,” during Smith’s ESPN show.
At one point during Brown’s manifesto, he questions Stephen A.’s manhood, referring to him as effeminate and a “buck dancing hoe.” Brown goes on to call out popular radio host, Charlamagne Tha God, for “doxing” his family members and bringing them into an unwarranted controversy.
Brown refers to Charlamagne Tha God as part of the “get along, go along crowd” repeatedly. A reference to black celebrities in the media, who gang up on people like him and support collective narratives out of fealty and a fear of being outcast.
Regardless of how you feel about Kwame’s career, you have to respect his stance as a man. Sure, he didn’t live up to the hype, but he made millions and apparently invested wisely, Brown’s net worth is reported to be $8M — not bad for a kid drafted out of high school and considered a bust.
Anybody who grew up in an urban neighborhood is familiar with the term, “code of the streets.” The code essentially means displaying a level of respect and conduct within your circle or block. One of the tenets of the code, is never let a rival publicly shame or diss your reputation without repercussions. Unfortunately, many people of color have lost their lives over this code of behavior.
Black media celebrities like Stephen A., Barnes, Jackson, Charlamagne etc. violated the code of the streets, by using their platform to diss Brown and ridicule his career, without considering his personal life, his family and his life as a man, outside of basketball.
In this era of highly-paid and highly-opinionated analysts, who achieve fame and fortune by being unfiltered about their perception of athletes’ lives and their shortcomings — this is the norm.
Prior to TV shows like First Take and other sports opinion shows, you rarely heard heated debates about the failings of a particular athlete on TV, that type of commentary was traditionally reserved for sports talk radio.
But networks like ESPN and Fox Sports capitalized on the new contentious debate style format, where analysts are free to share their controversial opinions about athletes. As a result, their ratings soared and attracted a growing and diverse audience of avid followers.
While ratings and followers are great for networks, former athletes like Kwame sometimes get thrown “under the bus,” in the attempt to create faux controversies and discussion topics. So big props to Brown for reminding the public that he’s not just a silent punching bag or a failure.
I wish him the best and I hope that he channels his rage and growing fanbase into a more constructive dialogue about athletes like him and their struggles. Till then, sounds like Mr. Brown definitely wants, “All The Smoke.”