#107: Getting Past Hard on Day 1 – Boston Celtics Great & Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown (Sandlot & GORUCK Games 2023 Series)

Wednesday July 12, 2023

Greatness leaves footprints. But what we are willing to learn from greatness will be the difference in our own success; especially if it involves the legendary Boston Celtics! Fran Racioppi welcomes the first NBA star to join The Jedburgh Podcast as one of Boston’s greatest, Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown climbs into the back of the WC-51 live from the 2023 Sandlot Jax & GORUCK Games. 

Dee explains how the Celtics built a dynasty and shares what we can do on our own teams to impart a culture of winning, hard work and no excuses. He takes us back to the start, from his 1990 NBA draft selection, and the lessons he learned as a new guy standing in the locker room with GOATs like Larry Bird. 

Dee also shows us the importance of ego in both our success and failure; and how to lead a group of experts when cohesion is the most important factor to winning. He also shares what we learn from competitive athletics, how we can transition from elite player, to manager, to coach, to executive, and the differences in coaching men vs women. 

The Reebok Pump is back and just like its debut in the 90’s, Dee Brown is pumping it up to slam it down. Learn more about Dee Brown on social media

Read the full episode transcription here and learn more on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube.

Listen to the podcast here

Getting Past Hard on Day 1 – Boston Celtics Great & Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown (Sandlot & GORUCK Games 2023 Series)

Dee, welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast.

I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

It’s an absolute honor. We’re here on day two of Sandlot JAX 2023. The GORUCK Games are in full effect. You got off the stage. You have given your Fit Talk, and you agreed when I hit you up to come over here and sit down with me in the back of the 1944 Dodge. You’ve done a lot of things in your life, but you never did this.

I have never done this. This is a great truck. Number one, it covers me because it’s hot outside. I don’t know how these people are doing this. GORUCK does. It’s crazy but this is a great environment to do an interview.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

What we’re not telling you is you’re next after this. We signed you up.

I got my back so I’m ready to go.

It’s an absolute honor to sit here with you. I told you that I’m from Boston. I grew up outside the city of Weston. You had some experiences in Wellesley, as I understand, but I watched you as a kid growing up. You played at a time. The Celtics are a dynasty. I’m going to ask you about that and what it takes to build a team like that. I remember watching you as a kid with Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and the whole team.

When I saw you were coming here, I’m like, “That’s the number one target right there.” It’s a kid’s dream here coming true in the back of this truck. A long-time NBA player, you’ve been around the sport and the league for over 30 years as a player, as an executive, and as a coach. You coached the WNBA as well. You’ve covered all aspects of this thing, but I want to take it back to the beginning. I want to start right here in Jacksonville. It was where it all began. You go into that NBA draft in 1990 and the Celtics picked you. What’s that feeling like?

It’s special because I was an NBA buff and a history buff. I remember watching the Lakers and Celtics playing every Sunday on CBS with Tommy Heinsohn that loved the Celtics and would be rooting against them. He’d be doing a national telecast, but rooting for the Celtics at the same time against Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and that group. When I got drafted by the Celtics, to be able to hear your name from Red Auerbach, the patriarch of the Celtics is legendary.

We were there from the ground up all the way back to Bill Russell. To hear a guy like that call your name and say that he wants you to be a part of that storied franchise, to me that was better than winning the slam dunk competition because you had a person that been around championships all his life. He built a dynasty and franchise. That, still to me, is the greatest sports franchise in the world to call your name.

I couldn’t wait to get up there and then get a chance to play with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. Also, be mentored by Dennis Johnson and see all these Hall of Famers every day at practice. I am a kid from Jacksonville. It was the first time I ever left home. The first time I saw snow was when I got to Boston. I had no clue what an ice scraper was. I had a spatula cleaning my windows. It was a great experience. It was a great growth for me as a young man coming from Jacksonville to go to Boston.

I want to ask you about day one. I say this because we talked so many times about what happened in the Special Forces after selection. A few weeks ago, I had the honor to sit down with Julius Thomas, a two-time pro bowler from the NFL. I asked him a very similar question. You get selected in the draft. Now, you have to show up.

You get selected to be a Green Beret. You get through the training and you show up to your unit but you’re the new guy. Many people think that the culmination is when they get picked but it’s just the start. Talk about walking into that locker room and all of these legends who had succeeded and done so much. You are the new guy and you don’t know shit.

Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh PodcastAgain, you go from being the big fish and the small fish real quick. You walk in the locker room and I don’t know what the comparison in the military is. You’ve got five Hall of Famers you’re playing with. Number one, you’ve got 8 to 9 every day at practice. You’ve got Red Auerbach, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, Sam Jones, and K.C. Jones every day at practice, not every other day.

You’re walking into the locker room and you’re looking around. These guys have achieved so much. You see all these banners in the old Boston Garden when you’re playing and do you know what you don’t do? You don’t make any excuses. There’s no excuse you can make. “This is too hard. Practice is too long. Why are were doing this?”

My grandfather told me the first time I got to Boston, “You make sure you learn how to get past hard from day one. It’s going to be hard. You’re a rookie. You’re going to be required to do things that you’re probably not used to doing.” It’s like being a freshman in high school. You’re the new guy. You got to go get the donuts. You got to go get a newspaper. You got to wash their clothes sometimes. You got to pick up their bags on the road. It’s a maturation process and you earn their respect.

Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh PodcastThat’s what you want to do. You want to go out there and play as hard as you could and be above the right things. Being selfless, team first, value winning, coachable, mentally and physically tough. Those things were part of my DNA and I learned that by being around great people every day who’s done it at a high level before I got there. I had no excuse to not be successful or to do the little things like dive on the floor or get loose balls.

On your first day in the locker room, you’re looking around, and they’ve done that. They’ve shown how it works. Always say greatness leaves footprints. You could choose not to follow the footprints or try to make it on your own. You still might get your end goal, but why not follow greatness? I was around greatness every day. Not a lot of people can’t say that and that helped me out early in my career.

[bctt tweet=”Greatness leaves footprints.” username=”talentwargroup”]

That’s an opportunity that you have to seize.

You have to take it. If you’re selfish, you think you could change it or you can be different. “I’m not doing that. Everybody else did that.” I’m following greatness, sixteen banners. There’s some commonality to sixteen banners. A lot of people can’t say that. Only one team can say they got as many championships as the Celtics and that’s the Lakers. If you’re around that every day, take the opportunity. Open up your mind. That’s part of your growth of understanding. When knowledge is there, be open and be ready to receive it in a positive way and not a reluctant way where you think you’re doing it because you’re trying to check a box.

I told you that you’re the first NBA player that we’ve had on the show. It’s taken 120-plus episodes to get it but we’ve had a number of NFL players. I’ve been very fortunate to have people who’ve played with the best like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. They talk about their work ethic. Talk about the work ethic that was ingrained in you. You said it was an opportunity. What did you learn from the greats about not what happens necessarily in practice but when that practice ends and the mandated time is over? It’s the rest of the work that creates the championship.

The greatest player I ever played with was Larry Bird. There is no question. I played with some great young players. I got a chance to play with young Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. I played with Reggie Lewis. I played with some great players. Larry Bird was the best player I ever played with. Why? It wasn’t so much his skillset set. It’s his preparation to be great.

He would prepare to be great before the lights came on and before everybody showed up. He was always the first one to practice and the last one to leave. Every story you hear about Larry Bird is true. I tried to beat him in practice in my rookie year, but I couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t let me win. It’s little things like that. “I’m not letting a rookie beat me at practice. That’s my thing.” At 4:00 or 3:00 in the morning, he is there. It didn’t matter. That was his DNA.

When you see things like that, you understood that it took more than showing up at the games and watching a film. It was a mindset. His mindset was, “I can be intentional about what I do. I have a plan in action for what I’m doing, and then I have to be attentive to what I’m doing. How do I get to that point?” He was very intentional and he paid a lot of attention to being great and it was always when nobody was watching. He got great when nobody was watching. I got a chance to see that firsthand. He allowed me to shoot and rebound with him for 2 or 3 hours after practice and made me understand how hard it is to be great every day.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

He saw the development and he took it upon himself to also say, “I have a responsibility to develop the rest of this team.” We talk about team ability and it is the teamwork part of elite performance. It’s not like he woke up every day and was like, “I hope to be great,” but he had the drive. The drive is another one of those characteristics we talk about in Special Operations. However, the true greats take it upon themselves to say, “I have a responsibility to everybody around me to also make them great, especially the new guys.”

That’s the culture that was built there. It filtered down from the top. As he said, “Leadership is called servant leadership.” As good as he was and you hear all the trash-talking stories about Larry Bird, he was a servant leader. He would challenge you to be great. He would put you in positions to not almost have failed, but not to fail in a situation in a way where you couldn’t bounce back and figure out what you’re doing wrong.

He was unbelievable like that and those are unique leaders. The leaders that get you to do things that you’re not comfortable with doing. Be here at all times. You got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. He would challenge you every day in practice. Our best games were at practice. It’s not the games. It was practice. Allen Iverson talks about practice. We love to practice because he got after us. He showed. He did it by actions we call it.

[bctt tweet=”Unique leaders get you to do things that you’re not comfortable with doing.” username=”talentwargroup”]

We used to call it praxis. His actions and his behaviors dictated and determined his values and his goals. When you showed up every day and your actions and your behaviors did that, you had to fall in line or you are an outlier, a sore thumb. You weren’t there long. “Get this guy out of here. He’s not part of what we’re trying to do.” That’s a very unique trait to have. Everybody doesn’t have that trait added to a point but the Larry Bird, the Magic Johnsons, and the great generals in the military have that it that you can’t teach. There are no leadership schools you can go to or just wake up, “I know I’m great. How do I make others great?”

Also, find the things that they can continuously improve. You’re talking about curiosity. It’s another one of those characteristic fundamentals. “Do I still have curiosity in my mind?” That’s what allows you to have a sustainable career over a long time. I want to talk about post-basketball as a player for you, too. The curiosity piece is important because so many players do great things in the league and they go do other things. Shaquille O’Neal is one of the greatest entrepreneurs. They own 100,000 businesses.

That comes from being intuitive. It’s always wanting to be great. You don’t all of a sudden become older and stop the competitive nature and spirit that doesn’t quit. I’m still a competitor. If I’m walking to that fence and it’s a race, I’m trying to beat the shit of that fence. Maybe there is no trophy or money at the end but that’s a competitive nature. Even when I retired, I wanted to be in a situation where I challenged other people. I challenged myself in player development, life development, career skills, and career development. Those things were challenging to me, and I loved it.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

I enjoy doing that part because I knew I was very good at it. I call myself a mentor of men. I tried to do that because hopefully, my actions and my behaviors duplicate exactly what I was saying to them every day. You see all the great people who are great businesses do that. They know how to cultivate and galvanize people. I try to do that behind the scenes where people are better versus themselves as they grow into the space they want to grow to as they get older.

How was the transition?

It was easy for me. I was blessed to be in our organization. When I came out, it was an old league. All your superstars are 27 or 28. They are married with kids. Some of the kids I was playing with, babysitting, and doing practice after practice. I got a chance to grow up real fast and also, the importance of family balance, knowing how to work hard, putting your time in, but also understanding how important your family was, and how to spend time on yourself.

A lot of young guys don’t get the opportunity. They get thrown into the fire, “Figure it out. You sink or swim.” I didn’t get put in that situation in Boston. When I got ready to retire, I always said, “I’m going to retire on my own terms and not when a uniform falls off me. I’m going to take it off and give it to them and go, “You have this back. I got something else to do.” That’s exactly what I did.

I remember going to my general manager’s office. I was at Orlando Magic. It was my 12th year. I was like, “My knees and hips are killing me. I can’t do it anymore.” I went to his office that I was still on the contract. I said, “I can’t give what I want to give. It’s unfair to you and to my teammates.” I was the captain of the team. I said, “I’m retiring.” The first thing he goes, “Are you sure?” I go, “Yeah.” He goes, “Okay. Your office is down the hall.”

Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh PodcastI had a job the next day. On the same day, I had a job because they knew what I was good at. They knew that I was prepared to teach these next-generation players, staff members, or whoever it was, to be professionals and to understand how life works after you’re done playing. My transition was very easy. My general manager at that time was John Gabriel of Orlando Magic. As soon as I retired, I was running the front office the next day.

How do you make that transition? We talk about going from peers. You’re there with the players. You’re all peers. Now, you’re one of them. Now, you’re the man.

That’s the toughest part because again, you got to stop thinking like a player and start thinking like a manager, coach, or an executive. It’s always that thin line between them respecting me and also a line between what they know. “I can tell you. I know how you feel. I’ve been there and done that. I’ve sat in that chair before.”

“I was there yesterday.”

I got a funny story about that one. There’s a level of trust. They trust you because when you say I’ve done that and been there, you have. When I say something, it holds a little more weight. While I was in the front office, Doc Rivers was the coach. We had a lot of injuries that year. I’m in my office working and Doc Rivers comes to my office and goes, “What shape are you in?” I go, “I’m in great shape. I just retired.” I feel good because I’ve been playing. Half the year, he goes, “I need you to come play.” I go, “What?” I left my office and signed a 10-day contract and played for 2 weeks. When everybody got healthy, I went back to my office.

I was prepared, but it was the trust. They believed in me. They understood. I knew what was going on. That’s the last year that you could retire, come back, and play. They changed the rule after that. Again, that transition was there and it wasn’t hard because I prepared myself to do other things other than basketball but it was funny. They knew I was right there and they trusted me to like, “Come on down.” I came down. I went back up and went back to my job. It was great.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

Let’s talk about coaching because you have a perspective as the player but so much comes down to coaching. You referenced generals. What’s the job of the coach, especially at that level? I think about how amazing these players are. You’ve taken millions and millions. You know how you should and we say, “How much is the coach of an NBA team focusing on the technical aspect of things versus having to get the team to gel together, trust each other, and play with each other?” You have the skill, the hard skill, and then the soft skills. I can take the 1 through 5 in the league, put them in the same team and they could be horrible.

You’ve seen that plenty of times and that’s the hardest part about coaching. I always say this when I’m speaking to people. All coaches can’t teach but all teachers can coach. You understand how to pass on information. The best players that ever played in the NBA are the worst coaches. Do you know why? It’s become too easy for them.

[bctt tweet=”All coaches can’t teach, but all teachers can coach.” username=”talentwargroup”]

Think about it. Go down a list of great NBA players that became coaches. They were horrible because it became so easy for them. They could not translate the information that was in their head and in their heart into teachable moments. They broke it down to the simplest form that I can understand. You can’t do that. It’s soft, relational, professional, emotional, and mental skills. How to translate that? You have to meet people where they are.

Coaches have to do that. They’re managers. They’re babysitters. They’re psychologists. They’re all those things above and they’re tacticians. There’s a tactical part, X and Os, draw up a play, and we score with the soft skills. Phil Jackson was great at soft skills. He knew how to handle Dennis Rodman but also know how to handle Michael Jordan. Those are a very big spectrum of personalities.

The coach I had in Boston, Chris Ford, knew how to handle Larry Bird but also knew to handle Ed Pinckney. A lot of people can’t do that because again, they don’t have authentic relationships with their players. Great coaches have an authentic relationship with their players because they know you care. I’m going to push you so when I do push you, you know it’s for the right reasons. It is not selfish. There’s no agenda attached.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

When coaches can take their personal agenda off the table and players see that, they’ll do whatever. Doc Rivers is one of the greatest player’s coaches. Why is he a player’s coach? Not because he’s a yes man and lets them do what they want to do. He meets them where they are and then he galvanizes them, motivates them, and be the best version of themselves or whatever that is for the betterment of the team. It’s for the group.

It’s a team sport. It’s not tennis. It’s not golf. It’s basketball. Coaches know how to do that and the great coaches do that. That’s always a hard balance to do because there are a lot of great basketball tactical minds but they don’t know how to deal with people everyday basis which is always the toughest part with all the different personalities and things.

You had the opportunity to coach and work with players in the NBA and in the WNBA. Talk for a minute about the difference between coaching women and men.

The physical nature is different. On the women’s side, the game is played below the rim. Everything was done from the floor up. These fundamentals are how to come off a screen, how to use a pick, and how to make certain passes. It wasn’t using your athletic ability after a mistake to go jump 10 feet to the rim and block a shot. You got to know how to slide your feet and rotations. It was a lot of teaching. When I coached the WNBA, the first thing the girls said to me was, “Do not water it down. Coach us like you’re coaching men.” I was like, “Will do.”

A man on the other hand is transactional, “What can you do for me? How can you make me look good?” The women are trans-relational, “How are you feeling? Is everything good?” That was a little bit of the difference because I can ask a simple question. I asked a guy, “How are you doing?” “Fine.” That was it. If that’s one of my female players, “How are you doing?” It’s like a fifteen-minute run. I’m like, “Let me reframe the question. Are you doing okay now?” That’s a yes or no question.

Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh PodcastYou learn the difference. Do you know what they did? It helped me be a better dad because I have three daughters. My oldest daughter plays in WNBA. Another daughter plays college basketball at William & Mary. Being around women’s sports, I was originally one of those original girl dads. It taught me how to be relational, have conversations, and how to listen. Also, how to translate my feelings into things where it wasn’t a tone thing, raise my voice, or use curse words because you don’t talk to women like that. I don’t want somebody talking to my daughter that way.

However, men, as I said, when it’s transactional, “What can you do for me? Are you making me look good? I’m playing for a contract.” It was different but I enjoyed both moments. I enjoyed coaching women more because I got a chance to express, teach, and grow because you can challenge yourself on how to do certain things that weren’t just, “Go up there, throw an alley-oop, you go dunk it, and we’re done.”

That difference starts from a young age. My daughter plays lacrosse. My son is playing his first soccer. Unfortunately, I was here so I missed it which hurts a little bit but it’s okay. There’ll be more. My daughter comes home every day from lacrosse and she talks about the conversations they had. She talks about how they’re going to do the eye black and how they’re going to do their hair. My son is on his way to practice. I said, “Adrian, you’re going to your first soccer practice.” He says, “Dad, I’m going to beat them and win.” That’s all.

They are very transactional, the wins and losses. We’re having a good time on the women’s side, but we’re going to compete. I agree with you 100%. It starts at an early age. Those conversations need to be had with young kids. You understand, there are transactional relationships you have and know the difference in how to manage those things.

What’s the biggest thing you take away from being a player?

It’s teamwork. How hard it is to be down for your guy through thick and thin. I can never imagine the things that you guys in the military go through in life-or-death situations. Being there and going, “I’m putting my life on the line for you.” No questions asked, run through that wall. You’re not asking what’s behind the wall you just run through it because you know that person next to you in the bunker has your back.

That’s what I learned from sports and being a teammate. I got to have your back. Are we going to have agreements and disagreements? Yes. Are we going to get into it sometimes and have arguments? Yes, but I got your back. The six most important words I learned from sports and I was right in the locker room and the board when I was coaching. “I will not let you down.”Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

If you could say that every day when you step into the locker room, use in a bunker, “I will not let you down,” it puts all the onus on you to support your teammate, your military buddy, your family member, or your brother and sister. That’s what I learned. If you could say that to yourself on an everyday basis, it makes you more conscious of other people. It makes you more empathetic. It makes you more conscious of what’s going on in the world because it is not about you.

I’ll add the word trust into that because it breeds trust. When I know that you’ve gone through the same thing that I have, when I know that no matter what happens, you’re going to be there standing alongside me, it builds trust. Whether we succeed or fail, we’re going to do it together. We’re at the fitness festival.

We did a workout with a couple of the guys that I had on the show. After we were joking, we were saying, “What is it about that workout that now we’re joking and laughing?” It was the fact that we did it. I didn’t know you guys until you walked up here. One of the guys didn’t even know I was going to ask him to do it but I looked at him and I said, “Do you want to do this?” He said, “Yeah.” Now, we got something to talk about because we both gave everything we had and laid it out on the ground in five minutes.

It’s that quick. You build trust. You built an authentic relationship with somebody because it wasn’t about you. It was about the group. We did something together so that we can challenge each other together. That’s what people want. That’s what’s going on right now in this world. We have to start real face time, not phone. Real face time with people and having authentic conversations, listening to people, and meeting where they are.

All of a sudden you are like, “I got your back. Let’s do this together.” People are very separated if it’s political or whatever it is. We’re people. It’s a race and it’s about the human race and I’m very adamant about that. That’s very important to me. Let’s treat each other like humans and then we’ll figure out the rest later.

How do you manage the egos?

That’s always a challenge. Sometimes it needs to be in an individual part where you’re talking to a great player who thinks they know everything and they can do everything. As a coach, you almost have to put them in a position to fail where you can build them back up. It’s not degrading, not life-threatening, but you put them in a situation like, “You don’t know everything.” Also, you said, “You got to trust me. As soon as you don’t trust me, I can’t help you because you already have a guard up or your wall up.” you don’t want to tear down somebody’s ego because we all got to where we are with ego. I got an ego.

You have to have an ego in anything you do, whether you’re a player, a businessman, or an entrepreneur.

You have to have an ego. If that ego is out of line with the group and the mission or the vision or your core values, then it has to be called out. It’s called out because now it’s not about you. That’s the hardest part is letting people understand. Again, it’s an individual sport. You can have an ego if you want to. You can yell at your coach or whatever you yell back but managing egos is always the hardest part.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

The way you do that is you have to listen and then you do not listen to respond. You listen to understand where they’re coming from. “Why do you have this ego and why do you feel this way? Why are you guarded and why do you have this wall up? Let’s break that down.” Once you start deep diving into those kinds of conversations, the ego changes a little bit. They still don’t think they’re great but they trust you more. When they trust you, you can get at them a little bit more than you did in the past.

How has the player changed over the last several years?

Social media. It’s changed because everybody’s a brand now. I remember when I won the dunk contest. I was with Reebok and I pulled down my shoes. I only did it because it was a competition. I didn’t do it for brand recognition. I was a Reebok athlete anyway. I didn’t know how big it was going to be. Many years later, we’re still talking about it.

I’m going to have Paul Litchfield who invented the shoe.

Paul and I have funny stories about the shoe and about how I put it on a map. I got a new shoe coming out with Reebok. It’s crazy that many years later we’re still talking about it. The athlete now, we talk about life after sports and it’s important. Be prepared for the times undefeated. You’re going to stop playing.

Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh PodcastPrepare yourself for life after sports. It starts at such a young age with brand recognition, NIL deals, social media, and being known all over the world. Before, you would do something in Jacksonville and somebody in California would not know about it until two weeks later in the newspaper or an article in USA Today. Now, it’s real-time. If you do something good, bad, or different, in real time, they know about it. People are so protective of their brand and themselves.

Sometimes, that takes away from the team environment because you’re only trying to build yourself. Athletes are as athletic and more athletic. You got these guys who are 6’9”, 6’10” jumping 48 inches off the floor or 40. They’re different but social media has made life such an unrealistic view of what things you go through. I like the tough times. I want to show people the tough times because that’s what most people go through. Everything is not what you see on social media.

[bctt tweet=”Show people the tough times because that’s what most people go through. Everything is not what you see on social media.” username=”talentwargroup”]

A lot of that hinders our growth sometimes. We’ll have conversations with younger kids, these athletes are special and different but again, it’s having these conversations at a young age. What’s important? What are your negotiables and what are your non-negotiables in life? Once you figure those things out, these athletes are doing a great job of growing their brand but you don’t want to make sure it hinders the bigger brand, which is a team sport, an organization, a company, or a corporation. You don’t want that to happen.

Your son is following in your footsteps. He’s at the University of Jacksonville now. What do you tell him?

The crazy part is that he’s at Bolles too where I went to high school and my numbers tied there. He was a little uneasy at first because he was like, “Everybody’s going to compare me to you. I can’t be as good as you.” We had a hard conversation. I said, “It’s not about me. It’s about you. It’s your journey. I’m always going to be dad first, not coach, not Dee Brown who’s in the Hall of Fame at the school. I will be a dad first. We’re going to have authentic conversations about your game, your life, and your growth.”

We don’t talk about the NBA in my house. We talk about your next step. His next step is going to college. He wanted to go to JU because he loves the city and the coaching staff. He finally embraced being my son and said, “Dad, I’m going to be better than you.” “That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.” “I’m breaking all your records.” On his own accord, he figured out that he wanted to be better than me. I said, “Be better than me. This is what you’re about.” It’s a great feeling for him to say that and I enjoy that. He’ll end up hopefully as good or better than I was ever at Jacksonville University.

You’re at the university as well as the Director of University Athletic Relations. How’s that transition been?

It’s been good. I worked in pro sports for the last many years, 12 as a player and 18 after that as a front office executive. I did a lot of personal and professional development for our young players in the NBA. It gets to a point where they are older. They have so many people around them like agents and family members. I said, “I need to go to an environment.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s about growth.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

At ages 18 to 23 in a learning environment on campus. The president approached me a few years ago before I even thought about it. He goes, “I want you to come back to university and be in a leadership role. These people and these students need your guidance. They need your leadership, your growth, and your experiences,” because I did it for so long.

I love what I’m doing. I get a chance to be around these young minds that want information. They want to grow. They want to be better. They’re in my office asking me questions. If it’s about financial growth, professional growth, mental growth, emotional growth, relational growth, or whatever has grown, I give them my experiences. We do curriculums. I do workshops with our head coaches, our assistant coaches, and administrators. It’s right down my pathway. It’s what I like.

I love developing. I love to see people grow and be a better version of themselves every day or whatever it is, one step at a time. To be able to be on campus, be back at your alma mater, to do that, and to see your number in the rafters. Half of you don’t even know who I am. Some of these kids have no clue. They tell their parents, and their parents are like, “You don’t know who that is?” I’m like, “I’m old. I got the parents excited but the kids are not,” but it’s great to be back and to be able to give all the information and resources back to our student-athletes.

You talked about servant leadership and that embodies servant leadership. We talk about effective intelligence as another one of those characteristics. It’s how you use the aggregate experiences that you’ve had in your life in your career to make decisions in the future in an informed manner that then empowers your organization. That’s what now you have the opportunity to do.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

I love doing it. It’s the best part to be able to pass that loan information. If you take it or not, it’s fine. I know I can’t impact all 550 student-athletes. If I can impact one, that’s a win. If I can get that double and double every year, those are winning moments for me. Those are about winning moments. It’s not winning this dunk contest or making a three-pointer at the buzzer. My winning moment is having a kid come in and go, “This is the best experience I’ve ever had in my life being at this university because you poured into me. You cared about me.” That is my winning moment right now, not on the athletic or the field.

You talked about the dunk contest. We’ve all seen it. The pumping up with the Reebok pump. I told you we’re going to have Paul on the show and you brought up the shoe. They’re releasing a new shoe because they were so popular when they came out. They went away for a long time. They’re coming back. What’s the new shoe? What’s going on with it?

It’s a new shoe. It’s a pump shoe. It’s a collaboration between me and Allen Iverson. It’s called Pump Universe. It’s half of my shoe and half of Iverson’s shoe. I still do things for Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal. We’ll do events around the country. We’ll do either shows, signing autographs, or camps and things like that. Reebok has been very good to me for a long period of time. My oldest daughter plays in the WNBA as a Reebok athlete as well.

Again, to still be able to be relevant, people talk about the shoe many years later and know that’s your shoe. It’s a special feeling if you made an impact on people’s minds and lives. As I said with Paul, he was the guy who invented the pump. He was the guy that I worked with on a daily basis in Boston when I was up there. I spend some time with him, and he is a part of GORUCK and the company there that’s based in Jacksonville. This is a full circle of amazement and excitement to be around them.

As we close out, the Jedburghs in World War II had to do three things every day to be successful. They had to be able to shoot, move, and communicate. These were their foundations, their habits. If they did these things with the utmost precision, they could focus their attention on more complex challenges that came their way like parachuting, occupying France, and arming of the French Resistance. What are the three things that you do every day to set the conditions for success in your life?Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

The first thing I do is meditate. I want to make sure I’m right with myself. I want to make sure I’m talking to myself. I make sure my goals and visions and my behaviors match up with my actions every day. I do that by meditating. The second thing is that I communicate with my family and communicating is listening. “What do you get going on now? “It is not about Dee Brown. It’s about my wife who I’ve been married to for many years. It’s about my kids going through their pathways and things like that.

The last thing I do is try to exercise as much as I can. It’s the physical part of it. Being an athlete doesn’t go away. You still have that competitive nature. Part of my meditation is I relax. I am communicating with my family and my friends. Most of my family, I say, “I got to exercise. I got to motivate myself to be great,” or whatever it is. Can I do a GORUCK Challenge? Probably not, but I can go and I can be the best version of myself. Those three things every day make me the best version of myself.

If you feel like having a little workout now, there are plenty of opportunities over here.Boston Celtics Point Guard and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown on The Jedburgh Podcast

It’s an amazing environment. The festival is beautiful. To see all these people, the military, and the police presence, you’re doing this exercise and fellowship. This is what it’s about. You got to love being in this great truck. I’m sure a lot of great things happened in this truck back in the day and to be sitting here with you, I appreciate you having me on here.

Thank you so much. Next, we got to try to see if we can get Shaq in the back of this thing.

You got to get some more shock absorbers for this. He is a big boy.


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