Getty: Al Bello
This is the last time Kwame Brown smiled, aside from that time he threw cake in some dude's face and ran.
It goes without saying that talent evaluation is an inexact science. And even though the 2001 NBA draft class has been sold as weak, Michael Jordan still blew it with the selection of Kwame Brown and the subsequent treatment of the young high schooler who was supposed to be the savior of a much maligned franchise.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Jordan said, "If we don't take Kwame Brown at No. 1, he's going at 2. No matter how you look at it, everybody had him on their radar as being the top pick. We just so happened to be the top pick and we chose him. It didn't pan out and we take the brunt of that."
True. The infatuation with high school players was issue #1, and Kwame was only one of three taken with the first four picks. The other two, Tyson Chandler (not much without Chris Paul), and Eddy Curry (tragically fat), have had uneventful NBA careers.
Not to say there wasn't talent in the '01 draft. Surely you've heard of Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson Tony Parker, and a fellow by the name of Gilbert Arenas.
But if not Kwame, then who? Good question.
The issue at hand is a champion like Jordan's inability to recognize the traits of mental weakness which would lead to Brown choosing to crawl into a shell of immaturity rather than compete.
Yes, dealing with the potential of a 19-year kid is unpredictable. But regardless of measurables which may or may not have indicated that Kwame would continue to be a huge bust to this day, the kid's hands were freaking tiny! What reliable big man has tiny hands?
Surely there were other options.
Teams have certainly learned their lesson when it comes to selecting players with questionable potential and little experience. Too bad the Wizards had to be the first to foray into taking a high school kid with the #1 overall pick.