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Wizards were rightto dump selfish Brown

WashPost: Team now must make sure knucklehead is gone for good
WIZARDS BULLS
Kwame Brown, shown listening to coach Eddie Jordan, has been a major disappointment since the Wizards drafted him out of Glynn Academy High School in Georgia in 2001. Brian Kersey / AP

No consequence is too severe for quitting on your team in the playoffs, so dismissing Kwame Brown for the rest of this season is exactly the right thing for the Washington Wizards to do. Not another day should the franchise wait on this kid to develop or tolerate his continued lack of professionalism. To even have him in the locker room, where he can potentially undermine a team doing just fine in the playoffs, would be irresponsible.

So the coach, Eddie Jordan, told Brown not to come back, which is the right move. And Ernie Grunfeld, the president of basketball operations, backed Jordan, which is the right move. Any consideration of Brown's trade value should be secondary to giving this team every possible chance to advance in these playoffs.

Failing to show up for practice the day before, and the morning of, a playoff game because your tummy aches is unpardonable. On the same day that Brown didn't show up for the game-day shoot-around because he said he had a stomach virus, Houston Rockets guard Bobby Sura checked out of a Dallas hospital in time to play against the Mavericks later that night. Sura had some kind of bug himself, one serious enough to send him to the hospital, where he had IVs in him for hours. Nevertheless, he got to the game. Sura didn't bail on his teammates in the playoffs.

The issue here isn't whether Brown was sick. The issue is that he doesn't particularly want to play. Brown got upset Saturday because he played just four minutes in Game 3, even though he was wretched in those four minutes. He got upset because the people here who pay good money for tickets increasingly have booed him. He's upset at seeing a marginally talented guy like Michael Ruffin, a guy with no draft pedigree, get the minutes and the love because he works, thinks, hustles, practices, cares and sacrifices. Brown, of course, isn't even remotely familiar with any of those characteristics.

An hour before Monday night's Game 4, Jarvis Hayes was on the court trying to practice with a busted kneecap. It's killing Hayes to not play in this series against the Chicago Bulls. The day before the game, while Brown was not answering the phone when team officials were calling him, Juan Dixon was shooting hundreds of jumpers to try to find his stroke. He had followed his coach into MCI Center's garage after Saturday's 1-for-10 shooting performance, essentially to beg for another chance to earn his minutes. That's how desperately Dixon wants to play and play well.

The best thing about the Wizards, besides the fact that they've demonstrated quite a bit of savvy in evening this series with the Bulls at two games apiece, is that Washington has a team full of players who appear to embrace work. It's possible Gilbert Arenas practices too hard and too long at times.

They work, they get along, they trust their coach, they want to be where they are. No, these Wizards aren't the '86 Celtics. But they seem to understand they're building something that could be really good one day soon.

What they don't need under any circumstances is a selfish knucklehead in their midst, somebody who after four years in the league wants everything given to him. You can only use the excuse, "I'm young," for so long. Brown is the same age, 23, as Arenas.

When Brown chafed under the impatience of Doug Collins and Michael Jordan, we understood to a great degree. That was a bad fit from Day One. Jordan never, ever, ever, ever should have drafted Brown with the No. 1 overall pick. Collins and Jordan are both impatient, and they are both perfectionists. Collins, much to his credit, was the one who volunteered one day toward the end of Brown's rookie season that the kid was stressed out, that his normally smooth skin was breaking out in pimples as anxiety set in. Collins blamed himself, and apologized openly.

But Eddie Jordan isn't impatient. Eddie Jordan is perhaps the most patient and calmest coach I've ever been around. He has taken the polar opposite approach with Brown, who in turn has disrespected Jordan and his teammates with what amounts to desertion.

That's why it's the right move to get rid of Brown now, even if this dismissal does diminish his value on the NBA trade market this summer. Anyway, there are always teams willing to give a second chance to a 23-year-old 7-footer built like Adonis.

Please, if there are teams willing to take a chance on troublemakers like Bonzi Wells and J.R. Rider, don't tell me somebody won't want Kwame Brown. Kevin McHale thought he could turn Michael Olowokandi, another overall No. 1 bust, into a player, so don't tell me there aren't GMs and coaches who will feel they can get from Brown what the Wizards failed to. And perhaps somebody will. Grunfeld can worry about that this summer.

Right now, this franchise -- which has been uncompetitive for most of the last 20 years -- needs to stay on the straight and narrow. Just like the Patriots and Eagles, the Wizards need to demonstrate that the franchise isn't going to tolerate certain behavior . . . at least not from somebody who can't play, who after four years can't even make the effort to get his butt to practice and morning shooting sessions.

Please don't tell me the Wizards, if they win this series against Chicago, will need Brown's big body in the next series. Brown wouldn't have a clue of where he's supposed to be or what he should attempt to do against Shaq or Alonzo Mourning. Every time the Wizards have depended on Brown he's been a liability. The Wizards are better off without him. I would much rather put trust in Etan Thomas, Brendan Haywood and Ruffin playing five to seven minutes per game more from here on out than rely on a quitter.

For at least the last three years, as Brown has sputtered through games and practices, the most optimistic basketball observers among us have held out hope that Brown would be a late bloomer, as was Jermaine O'Neal, who wasn't much of a player until his fourth season. Tracy McGrady, like Brown and O'Neal, is another late bloomer who went from high school straight to the NBA. Maybe Brown, we kept thinking, just needed some care and feeding, a little patience, somebody with a lighter touch. You don't just wave bye-bye to 7-footers with that body and that ability to explode.

But the kid has used up his benefit of the doubt. If he's going to bloom, it will have to be elsewhere. This isn't Ben Wallace being traded away too quickly. Kwame Brown has been given every chance to make it here, and mostly he hasn't shown enough interest in the opportunity. Today it's a dismissal, next month the Wizards need to make it permanent and for the good of the franchise, send him packing.