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When I met Chris Brown in 2019 at our former place of employment, he sported a jacket with Mount Mercy imprinted on it. While that jacket became stained with screen-printing ink, Chris and I discussed basketball, marriage and our walk as Christians.
As the weather and that frigid warehouse got warmer, Chris started to not only play basketball regularly at different gyms but train for something better–an opportunity to play overseas.
Now after all the grinding and preparation, Chris has international basketball experience and probably would have more if the coronavirus pandemic had not shut everything down in the spring of 2020.
However, I was able to catch up with Chris on The Triple Threat Basketball Podcast (https://anchor.fm/maurice-k-dixon/episodes/Session-of-1-on-1-with-International-Basketball-Player-Chris-Brown-ecfm1f) on the first Sunday in April to talk about his time playing in Mexico, and how that door was opened, along with what he had to overcome and other topics.
[The full edition of this session of 1-on-1 is available at the link above and other podcasts formats such as Google, Apple and Spotify.]
In February, you left for Cananea, Mexico to play in a preseason tournament of a league (Liga Municipal de Basquetbol de Cananea) there. What was playing across the border like?
The culture, the food, the people–it was overall amazing. Words won’t really even begin to put it in the correct perspective but truthfully me being there I felt like a different person. Walking down the street. Everybody blowing their horns. ‘We love you.’ Signing over 500 autographs. Taking over 500 pictures. Averaging 17, eight and nine. People were literally coming to me during the game trying to get my autograph. It was such an amazing experience to be over there playing and I went to about seven different cities and got a chance to play against a few amazing teams. Overall, it was definitely a blessing and I really can’t wait to get back to it.
Filling the stat sheet in a positive way is always beneficial for a team. What was the reason for your success on the court?
My size was working for me. My understanding of the game. Also I’m pretty quick to be my size. I’m just as quick as every small point guard. In my first game, me and my teammate Chris we’re playing on this team with all Mexicans and I just wanted to see what they could do. They did pretty good but I knew I could do a lot better. It got to a point I’m bringing the ball up. I’m setting up the plays and calling the shots. I’m getting you open. I’m going to swing you the ball and you knock it down. That is what worked for me. The coach allowed me to be the general on the floor. He trusted me with the ball and allowed me to play my game.
How were the games scheduled?
This was basically the preseason and we were playing in this tournament. Eight games in about four days. We were moving. We ended up playing in the championship against a very talented team. Then we went to the next city called Navajoa and got a chance to play against some great competition. We won. We played about 15 games in a span of two to four weeks.
Wow! How did that schedule affect you physically?
In Mexico, they have this pill called Flanax and it was my best friend. It was for inflammation. My lower back started hurting. I popped a Flanax and literally I was like where is this in America. It kept me going and not to mention the food. Physically, it was tough but I was so prepared mentally that it really didn’t affect me that much.
So after experiencing that schedule of games in a short period of time, how do you feel about the ‘load management’ era basketball is in?
It’s way different when you got grown adults who have been fighting to get overseas or have already been overseas. If you are not in the NBA or you aren’t the No. 1 player on a team overseas, you are not about to think about load management. You are ready to play. You are like I’m here. Let’s do it. Let’s eat. When it comes to load management, I understand it but I feel like if you are healthy then play. Give the people what they came to see. You have a gift people will kill for. What are you sitting out for? I get it. You are getting paid millions and this is your job but think about back in the day you would never hear somebody like Julius Erving talk about load management.
I remember how you were pursuing playing abroad and talking about this when we were working together. I’m sure when you got the call or however you got the information you were like it’s go time. So how did leaving for Mexico come to fruition?
Honestly, I believe it was really God because this coach hadn’t seen me play. I have a friend that I played college ball with. His name is CJ Parker. He reached out to the coach for me. Him and the coach had a few words over the span of a few weeks then me and the coach finally chopped it up. I didn’t have much film but I was training with this guy B.B. He’s in Atlanta and is a great trainer. I was training with him and sending my coach clips of me training. He saw my size. I’m a 6-5, 220-pound combo guard so initially he probably assumed this man is slow and out of shape but he sees me doing my drills and now he is calling me on the regular and asking what position do you play? The next thing you know it’s a week from the time to go to Mexico.
For you, basketball dates back to Madison County High in Florida, Webber International University in the same state and Mount Mercy University in Iowa. Many people probably never heard of Mount Mercy and probably thought since you went there it’s best you find a job outside of playing basketball. But now you have experience playing internationally so what is your response to those with that opinion?
I’ve gotten a lot of that actually. It doesn’t matter what school you come from. Honestly, I didn’t play much in college. You hear all of those stories that the coach didn’t like me and this and that. I always knew how good I was. I was strong enough to accept criticism. I always knew what I could do. It wasn’t a clouded vision of myself. It was a sober understanding of who I am and what I could do on the court and off the court. I never allowed anybody to dictate whether I pursued basketball or not. There were times when it got super discouraging. I wanted to quit. I’m in the car crying like Lord should I give up. If I should give up show me. There is a difference between God telling you something and you having a desire for it. Many people believe because I have this desire this is what God wants for me and for me it was more of a surrendering thing. Alright God if this is not what you want me to do then show me, take me in the direction you want me to go. That was hard for but I was prepared for whatever.
The next thing you know I have people reaching out to me about playing in this and playing in that. So connect with the right people, work on your craft and be serious about it. Be all in to the point that you are willing to go overseas for free. Most people say for free I will never do that. Well you don’t want it bad enough. Don’t doubt. Fight for it. If you want it, fight for it–period. It’s simple.
Do you have a scripture in the Bible you like reading to keep you inspired?
Numbers 23:19 is my life scripture. Something that is burnt into my heart. God is not a man that he should lie. Nor is he the son of man that should change his mind. Has he said it and will he not do it or has he spoken and will not fulfill it? That is my verse. It always reminds me if God said it, it has to happen. It’s almost like the Lord sees before and after. He knows everything that is going to happen in between so if He spoke something that already means He’s seen it happen. I can hold onto His word because I know He’s real. He hasn’t failed me yet. Every time I start getting weary that is my go to. He is not like oops you got to be quicker than that.
What are some of your hobbies outside of basketball?
I like to write. I write a lot of spoken word. I train kids when I can in basketball or mentorship–help people and be a light. I just want to be a light wherever I am. I also like to play pool. I like ping pong. Don’t nobody want to see me in ping pong or pool.
Who was your favorite basketball player growing and do you have one now?
My favorite player was actually Rajon Rondo when he played for the Celtics. Today my favorite player is Damian Lillard. That is my dog. I’m proud of that man. All of these years of being overlooked and now he is finally getting what he deserves.
If there was a basketball rule you could change what would it be? Whether you could take something away or bring something back.
I would just bring back allowing the players to be a little more physical. I think it’s taught players how to be smarter on the court however I think the aggression is what brought the fight out of some people. That aggression reminds me of pressure which either makes diamonds or busts pipes. That aggression will show you who the men are and who the boys are. Now it’s kind of confusing at times cause now you can have someone who is so aggressive they can be the best player in the world like LeBron James but they get touched and they are screaming for a foul. I’m not throwing any shots at LeBron though.
Do you have a favorite basketball movie?
Coach Carter because of the heart behind the movie not even the basketball in it. I like to connect with the coaches and so for me to see how much this coach cared about his kids and how he allowed the kids to grow him as well. A lot of times people think it’s one-sided but it never is. They showed a lot of heart. He was willing to put the chains on the doors. He understood when basketball is over then what. That movie touched me. I shed a tear every time I watch it.
So the NBA is still trying to figure out what to do to get a 2020 champion crowned. If you were the commissioner or on a board where you could make some decisions, what would you propose on how to finish the season and playoffs?
I think you would have to hear the hearts of the players and even the hearts of the fans because that is why the players play but if it boiled down to it I would end the season.