When Dee Brown first saw his daughter play basketball, he thought she was “one of the worst players I’d ever seen.” Tell us how you really feel, Dee.
But Lexie Brown wanted to play the game that made her father famous, so her father began teaching her in an unorthodox fashion.
“”No games, just training,” he said. “Now she’s very skilled, she’s very quick and she understands the game.”
Brown has become one of the top female basketball players in the country, and, among daughters of former Celtics, she’s not alone. Xavier McDaniel’s daughter Xylina and Pervis Ellison’s daughter Aja are both near the top of their high school class. Randy Moss’ daughter Sydney — whose outside jump shot is presumably straight cash, homie — is also rated among the nation’s top 50 players.
The talented tro of Celtics daughters were discussed in a Wall Street Journal article about daughters of famous athletes who are now making their names on the hardwood. That topic is interesting and all, but I’m more intrigued that Lexie Brown almost beat her father Dee in a one-on-one game. She said she missed an open layup that would have dispatched her father.
“I blew it,” she said. “I’ll get him eventually.”
She must be good, because Dee Brown can still play. Not like he used to, of course — he’s 42 years old now, so I doubt he’s going to dunk with his eyes closed any time soon, nor would he average 15.6 points if he played in the NBA. But I covered the Springfield Armor last season and Dee scrimmaged against the team during one practice I attended. Playing against Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds, Louisville’s Jerry Smith and Oklahoma State’s JamesOn Curry, Brown held his own.
He didn’t destroy the D-League competition like he might have in his prime, but Brown scored a bunch of buckets. He then ran out of gas like most slightly-out-of-shape, well-past-their-prime players do, but for the first six or seven minutes of the scrimmage, Brown was the best player on the court. He even dunked at one point. Okay, so the dunk was during a stoppage in play. Still, watching a 6’1, 42-year old former slam dunk champion throw one down felt like it must feel like to watch an aged Nolan Ryan chuck an 86-MPH fastball — he doesn’t bring it like he used to, but damn, was that still impressive.
I’m glad Dee can still dunk — it would be embarrassing if Pervis Ellison’s daughter could dunk and Mr. Reebok Pump couldn’t. Aja Ellison is a 6’3 sophomore who can already throw it down. “And Aja’s dunk was legitimate,” said Pervis, just in case you were questioning its validity. “There are some obvious genetics at work here,” said Aja’s high school coach. Hopefully, those genetics don’t mean she is destined to become the WNBA’s number one pick, have one completely random 20-10 season, then fade to black almost immediately afterward.
Some famous parents desire to shield their children from the fame and let them grow up without the spotlight. Not Xavier McDaniel.
“Pressure is what you make of it,” he said. “Like I tell my son, ‘It don’t matter if you want to say you want to be your own person. You’re still going to be compared to me.’ It’s the same thing I told my daughter: ‘Either you relish it or they’ll gobble you up.’”
I would write more about McDaniel’s daughter Xylina, who was described as “the most ferocious player in the gymnasium,” or the other famous daughters excelling in basketball. But every time I think about Xavier McDaniel, I think about the documentary Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend, when a still-in-awe McDaniel describes one of Bird’s top trash-talking moments.
“He said, ‘I’m going to get [the ball] right here and I’m going to shoot it in your face,” recalled McDaniel. And then, of course, Bird did. “He came out at about that exact spot,” said McDaniel, “and shot a shot right in my face.”
But the Celtics legend wasn’t done talking.
“He was like, ‘I didn’t mean to leave two seconds on the clock. He wanted to shoot it with zero seconds on the clock,” said McDaniel. “I went back to the sideline like, ‘Damn.’ ”