240 games, 2016 points (8.4), 1540 rebounds (6.4), 393 assists (1.6), 219 steals (0.9), 328 blocks (1.5), 438 FG%, .734 FT%, .178 3P%, 12.3 PER
Enforcer. Blue Collar. Winner.
Perhaps its apropos to kick off a list about the top Nets of all-time with a guy like PJ Brown, a solid yet unspectacular role player who made more of a name for himself after he left New Jersey. I would wager in a list of the top Miami Heat players of all-time, Brown would figure higher than #44, though no one is mistaking him with Alonzo Mourning or Dwyane Wade.
Could Brown lead you a championship? No. But was he one of those glue guys that helped to hold good times together? He was a bench player on the 2008 Championship Boston Celtics team, but he was also a three-time all-defensive second-teamer; twice with perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse Miami, and once with an above average Charlotte Hornets team.
As for his career with the Nets – when Brown made his debut in 1993, I remembered thinking “who was this tall lanky kid with the Kid ‘N Play haircut?” He would never truly open my eyes, but after putting up 8-10 points and 8-10 rebounds with regularity throughout the first few months of the season, Brown quietly earned a spot in the inaugural Rookie Game during All-Star weekend. Then, all of a sudden, Brown earned acknowledgement from Nets fans.
Brown was the rare case of an unheralded draft pick actually producing a solid rotation player for the Nets organization. Picked 29th overall in the second round of the 1992 NBA Draft, Brown elected to spend the following season in Greece, making it seem like it was yet another wasted draft pick for the Nets. But he did eventually sign on to play for the Nets, and he surprisingly earned a spot in coach Chuck Daly’s rotation right away – probably because of his workmanlike, defense-first approach. I’ve heard rumors that Daly was one of those coaches who preferred his teams played defense.
If only Brown could have made enemies with the New York Knicks while he played in the swamp – he would have been the stuff of Jersey legends. Instead, Brown made the biggest splash of his career when he was wearing a Miami uniform and he tossed Knicks PG Charlie Ward into the courtside seats section of the arena, leading to a brawl between the two teams that resulted in a host of player suspensions, likely costing the Knicks a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997. Oh boo-hoo, no one was beating the Bulls that season, no matter what you tell yourself Knicks fans.
Instead, Brown’s three seasons in New Jersey were just an obscure prelude to an otherwise productive NBA career. And his inclusion on this list is a reminder that he’s the kind of player the Nets could have used more of through their history.