Tell Me When It's Over is an interview series in which we ask former athletes about the moment they knew their playing days were over. Today: Marc "Showbiz" Brown, likely the greatest basketball player ever to wear a Siena uniform.
In March 1989, Brown, a flashy point guard, led the Saints to their very first NCAA Tournament appearance. And the No. 14 seed from New York State came home with a win, beating No. 3 seed Stanford 80-78 as Brown scored a game-high 32 points, the last two of which came on free throws with three seconds left on the clock.
After graduation he played professional basketball in the CBA and spent 16 years overseas—Portugal, Spain, France, Brazil, Venezuela, and Mexico—until 2007, when he came home to take over for his father as head coach at Division III New Jersey City University.
He has likely listened to Criminal Minded (Boogie Down Productions/KRS-One) more than any other album over the course of his lifetime.
* * *
I just played because that's all I knew. Loved to play. Loved to compete. And everything happened to me as I went along. Got into high school. You know, I was always told I was too small, too thin. By the time I got to be a junior, colleges started calling. That's when I realized, Wow, I can go to school for free, play Division I ball. I went into Siena with no expectations. As my career started to progress, I started getting NBA scouts coming to games my junior year. That's when it became a reality that I could possibly make money playing ball. And it kind of just happened that way. I just kind of took things as they came. I really didn't have any goals or dreams. I just played and let it happen, and that's the truth.
I've been around this game, being that my dad played and was a coach, my older brother's a 1,000-point scorer at a Division III school, cousins. I can't even imagine my life without basketball, so definitely I feel like I was meant to be, in some way, a part of this sport.
I just always felt comfortable around this sport. Even when I played, before my career was over professionally, I had in my mind that I wanted to coach. And hopefully I was going to come in and my dad would groom me a little bit, but he retired and I was able to step in right away as the head coach. So there wasn't really a moment. I just fit with basketball. I can't imagine myself doing anything else.
* * *
When we beat Stanford in '89—when the game was over, I had just finished embracing Jeff Robinson, and I turned around and was looking for my father. And as my father was coming to me in the crowd I embraced with the Siena fans around us. That's my fondest memory of my career. Playing. Coaching. It's really one of the fondest memories of my life.
I thought I played well in Philadelphia's camp. I was disappointed. Very. I didn't think I got a fair shot. And one of the reasons I went overseas so early instead of staying in the CBA and trying to get to that next level is because of my disappointment in the entire NBA system. So I just took it overseas and took my chances there.
I had an opportunity in '97, what, five years, three or four years into my international career, to come back and go to Milwaukee Bucks camp, and I turned it down because I was that bitter from my experience in '91/'92. So, you know, I'm satisfied with my career, but the fact that I didn't play in the NBA was something that bothered me throughout my career. Not now, but as I was playing, because I definitely felt I had the ability to help a team in the NBA.
That's the only "what if?" I really have. If I would have gone to the Bucks camp a little stronger, obviously a better player, a little older, little more mature, could I have gotten into the NBA and stuck for a few years? But besides that, the reason I didn't do it is because I'd signed a really nice contract and the Bucks didn't offer me any guaranteed money to come to camp. So that kind of was my sign that they really weren't that interested.
Actually I was playing in Rio de Janeiro at the time, so … [laughs]
And I'm glad I went back because I met my wife that year.
* * *
I probably could've played at least two more years. I just didn't want to. I was ready to stop traveling, and I was ready to coach, and the timing was perfect, because in 2007 my dad had decided to retire and I finished up in France and that's when I became the head coach, six months later, 2007. So it was timing. The timing was right. But yeah, I started thinking about my coaching career when I was 29, 30 years old, the prime of my career. I knew that's what I wanted to do when I finished up. Definitely.
I turned 37 that summer, in July. My son was, at the time, was 2. My wife was tired of the traveling, didn't really want to have my son overseas, and I kind of agreed with her. And I didn't want to be apart from my family anymore. And I was tired of the traveling. That's really why I stopped. I still love the game. I still play all the time, competitively. I don't get paid for it, obviously. But I was tired of the traveling. I was tired of the grind of playing overseas. There was some money out there for me, but I felt that I had done enough, and I didn't want to go out as kind of a player who was out there playing just to be receiving a check.
Last year Rob Trucks interviewed current and former D-I basketball coaches Jay Wright, Mike Adras, Charles E. Ramsey, and Kevin Stallings as part of his oral history of 49-year-olds. His other work for Deadspin includes interviews with former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk and the late Dave Duerson, and an oral history of Big Star co-founder Alex Chilton's time in Tuscaloosa. You may e-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @tusktusktusk.
Photo via the Times Union.