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Chucky Brown tells campers to work hard on and off the court

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

LELAND—Hanging on a wall above an exit at the North Brunswick High School gym is the Houston Rockets’ Chucky Brown shooting a jump over Danny Ferry. When Brown returned to his high school alma mater Friday for the Clarence Brown North Brunswick  Basketball Camp—named in honor of his dad—one of the campers asked Brown whether he made the shot. Brown pointed toward the poster.

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“I made the shot,” he said.

Some of the campers reacted, as if the answer had settled a bet.

The question was one of the many unexpected and interesting questions the 80-or-so campers, in the third through eighth grades, had for Brown.

Most campers knew about Brown’s background and that he had played for 12 NBA teams in 13 seasons, a record.

“I’m very proud of that,” he told the campers, sitting on the gym floor in rows before him, “but one of my biggest accomplishments to date is going back to N.C. State and getting my college degree.”

He said that when he began his NBA career he was about 20 hours short of getting his degree. In about his eighth NBA season he decided to take correspondence courses to finish the requirements. After games, he would do his assignments and then mail them back to be graded.

“After I retired, I had to go on campus,” he said. “It was a funny feeling being the old man in the classroom. I was only 33.”

The degree was something always stressed by his father, a bus driver in New York when the family lived there.

“I finally got it and made him proud,” he said.

Brown reminded the youngsters to be well-groomed and to act sensibly. He said he was at one of his daughter’s swim meets and one of the swimmers was jumping around and broke his arm.

“You only have one body,” Brown said.

But basketball was the main topic of interest, and he told the campers the NBA game is harder than in looks on the highlights.

“They don’t show you the work that these guys do to perfect their game,” he said. “If you want to be good at school, you have to study. If you want to be good at basketball, you good to put that time in on the court.”

The campers asked Brown about current NBA players, and the campers were most interested in LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose. And Michael Jordan.

Who’s better: Kobe or LeBron? When asked this question, the campers shouted for one or the other and nearly drowned out Brown’s response.

“Kobe has got more skill,” Brown said. “LeBron is the better athlete. As a basketball player right now? Kobe?”

The response elicited some cheers and some boos.

“Kobe has five rings to back it up,” said Brown, who has an NBA championship ring from 1995 with the Rockets. Brown has a CBA championship ring, too, from that same season.

Who’s better: Derrick Rose or LeBron James? Again, the campers shouted for one or the other.

“Derrick Rose is tough, but I like LeBron,” Brown said. Between the two, Brown said he’d pick LeBron.

Who’d you take: Ray Allen or Reggie Miller?

“That’s a tough one,” Brown said. “I like Ray Allen.”

The best point guard now?

Brown mentioned Chris Paul and Derrick Rose.

Brown said he “had no problem” with James’ leaving Cleveland.

“He was a free agent,” Brown said. “He had a choice of what he wanted to do.”

Was Michael Jordan the greatest player he ever played against?

“Without a doubt, yes. No question,” said Brown, who noted that he guarded Scottie Pippen in those games against the Bulls, not Jordan.

When asked about his favorite team, he said. “Right now, I’d have to say the Hornets, because they pay my check.” He is scout for them.

A somber moment occurred when Brown was asked about Lorenzo Charles. Charles, who hit the last-second, game-winning basket for N.C. State in the 1983 NCCA men’s basketball championship game, died in a bus accident the week of this camp.

Brown said Charles was his host when he visited N.C. State as a recruit.

“He took me out on a Friday night,” Brown said, and they became friends.

“Lo and I always stayed in close contact. Lo always came over to my house.

“I had just talked to him Sunday afternoon. I could still hear his voice. ‘What’s up, Chuck?’”

Charles died the next day when the bus he was driving crashed on I-40 in Raleigh. Charles was 47; Brown is 43.