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Will Brown: Born to Play

New to the Washington Generals, Will Brown discusses his new opportunity, who he is off the court and much more.

Will brown born to play
Will brown born to play

Be a good person, because that follows you. Will Brown

One thing that’s clear about Will Brown is that he always knew what he wanted to do in life, and that’s play basketball. Even through injuries and setbacks, his love for basketball never wavered. His dedication and tremendous talent throughout the years has helped him live this dream and continues to create opportunities for him to play the game at a high level. Will and I were able to discuss his love for basketball, his new opportunity playing with the Washington Generals, who he is off the court and more.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m from Yeadon right outside of Philadelphia. I played basketball all my life since I was four, throughout high school and college. I went to East Stroudsburg University where I played in the PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference). Last year I was able to be introduced to the Washington Generals. This is my first year playing with the Generals.

Outside of playing for the Generals, I coach at Penn Wood high school. I’m an assistant coach for the high school team, which is actually the high school I went to. I also help in the youth organization that they have in the city for basketball, baseball and soccer. I help run all of the basketball organizations, camp, clinics, and basketball leagues through wintertime and summertime. I try to help and give back just like others did for me when I was younger.

What has it been like playing on the Washington Generals, under the Globetrotter umbrella?

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect coming into this. It’s fun – very fun. I thought I would be more stressed going into it because it’s a job and you have to show up everyday and do things, but honestly, it’s basketball for me. Once I understood everything besides the business aspect of it, everything just became basketball which made it easy to transition into.

I enjoy being out here everyday. Being able to travel, being able to go to different places ,going to different arenas that I either played at, or seen on TV and now I get to interact with the kids, and fans everyday. To be able to put a smile on someone’s face just by going out and playing basketball everyday is amazing to me.

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If you know me, you know that I love basketball so you’ll understand why I’m away from home. I’m not just out here doing a job and then when the job is done, I’m sitting here upset that I’m not home. To me, I enjoy everyday being here. The opportunity is enough for me. It’s a sacrifice not being home, but this is what I wanted.

How do you handle your personal life with the demands of being on tour?

It’s hard, but I’m getting better at it. You just have to learn how to find ways to adjust and make it work because with anything you do as a job, you’ll have time taken away from your everyday life. Being out here we’re taken away from where we live. I try to stay in contact on the phone, facetime as much as I can with my parents and my family members, as well as everybody that I’m close with.

Trying to find time outside of being in the gym and the things we have to do here, the long travels on the bus, sometimes I get to the hotel and I may not be in the mood to be on the phone, or may not have the time because it’s late, so it’s all about finding that time and making sacrifices. I know I can’t always talk to everybody everyday, but I at least make sure I talk to my mom as much as I can.

All of my other friends that I would normally be around, and those I work with as well as some of the kids I coach, I try and talk to them every two or three days just to try and stay in contact. It has been a little difficult but I’m finding better ways to stay in contact and communicate with everyone.

You play for large crowds of people who buy tickets to your games. Do you feel crowd and atmosphere can affect games?

No. Sometimes I guess it could, but it really shouldn’t, at least not for me. I played at a high level throughout high school and college. I played in big arenas, etc., so for me, I’ve never been one to really worry about the crowd, or let it affect my play on the court. When you play in front of a bigger crowd, it definitely gives you more energy. When it’s a smaller crowd, you have to find one small thing to try and push you a little bit to get you in a better mood and keep you going.

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Will brown making a jump shot during washington generals game
Will Brown making a jump shot during Washington Generals game

Do you still get nervous before or during a game? If so, how do you overcome?

No [laughs]. I’ve been past that for a little while. I’d probably say my first couple of games out here when I didn’t know what to expect, I wouldn’t say I was nervous, I would say anxious. Just making sure I don’t do anything to look bad, making sure I fit in, trying not to do too much. Besides that, no I don’t get nervous. If I did, I’d try and focus on making sure I play correctly and what the team is doing rather then worry about anything else.

What is the most important skill you think an athlete should develop?

For me, it’s between coachability and being able to communicate with your teammates. Coachability is important, having your coach be able to trust you with whatever they say, but also being able to communicate with your teammates is a huge thing. It can be something small, that may be getting on your nerves or someone else’s nerves on the team, but if you can’t get past that, then something small can turn into something big. If you can learn to communicate, then no matter what happens within the team, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent you can get through it. You can work together to still maintain whatever needs to be done

What is Will the person like outside of basketball?

I love music, I have plenty of friends who produce, engineer and make music. I play around with music, making beats and things like that. I like art, I draw, I paint a little bit as well. I like spending time outside, taking walks, hikes and things like that. Between that and just hanging out with family and friends. That’s my main thing, ever since I was young, I’ve always been around family and friends.

Most of my friends are like my family, Darius Robinson-Wallace who also plays for the Generals is like my family, he’ll come to family functions whether its a cookout, my birthday, sometimes Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc. Anyone who is a close friend, is just like my family.

If you can play anyone one-on-one, who would you pick?

That’s a great question, because now my question is am I trying to win this one-on-one? [laughs] It would be between Ray Allen and Allen Iverson. These are two people that I watched a lot growing up that I tried to imitate. Just going in and playing with them and trying to win, and if I do beat either one of them, the confidence that I would have in myself after that [laughs].

Will brown on the court for washington generals
Will Brown on the court for the Washington Generals

What advice would you give a young kid, specifically from Philly who wants to make it playing ball?

One of the main things that I tell all the kids is school comes first, 100%, because that’s one thing that I kind of took for granted. Once I got to college, I tore my ACL and broke my knee cap so I had to sit out two years in a row, where for me, I’ve never had an injury before where I couldn’t play basketball. Going from playing basketball your whole life to now having two years where I can’t play.

I had to rely on Will the person. Will who goes to class, making sure I keep my grades up, making sure I’m still eligible and still making sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do to get back to playing basketball. Basketball isn’t going to be everything, sometimes you will not be able to play, so you need to have a plan outside of it. Taking care of school is the number one thing. I still had a 3.7 GPA in high school, I graduated college with a master’s degree and that’s one thing that was a blessing to me.

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The second thing I would say is stay committed. Take care of your school work, do whatever you need to do at home as well, take care of the things that allow you to have that opportunity to play. A lot of kids now think basketball or sports is what they should do, when it’s a privilege at the end of the day. If you’re able to take care of everything first, it makes playing basketball so much easier.

I’ve seen people I’ve grown up with not take care of it the correct way, and although they were talented they never had the opportunity to play basketball because they never took care of the other things. Be a good person, because that also follows you. It can determine whether you get opportunities as well as whether they’re taken away from you just based off who you are as a person. I feel like I’m an open person and when I’m around people I try to build people up as much as I can. Even if I don’t know you and we’re just playing basketball, I’ll try and help build you up.

In the end I’d say school, listening to your parents, being yourself and then just staying dedicated in what you want to do.

What advice would you give a teammate to overcome injuries or setbacks?

Mainly just go 100% and go all in with rehab and whatever you are asked to do to recover. When you try and fight it and try to say you’re better then you actually are, you’re doing nothing but hurting yourself and holding yourself back. Some people are scared to actually have an injury and work back through it. Just being honest with whoever you’re working with, be honest with yourself, and be ok with putting the work in to try and get back to where you were. It’s also important not to rush because a lot times people are in a rush to get back because they feel like they’re missing something or miss being who they are as an athlete. If you take the time and sit back and do what you need to do to play again, you can get back to yourself or even better.

I had to learn this myself, my first time getting hurt, I wanted to play so bad. I tried to say I was good when I wasn’t. My physiotherapist and my doctors knew I wasn’t as good as I was saying I was, they knew I just wanted to go play again, but then I got hurt again partially by me trying to think I was better and I had to sit out another year. I’ve been through the process of thinking I knew better than the doctors, but I had to learn to trust them, give 100% into healing, as well as being honest with not only them but myself.

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What sets you apart from your teammates?

I would say having different experiences coming into this. We’re all not from the same school, didn’t grow up in the same area, so we all have different experiences to bring. Everybody’s mentality isn’t going to be exactly the same. Things that I may speak up about, maybe no one else will speak up about or an idea I have may be something that they’ve never heard before because I was brought up in a different system or had a different coach then someone else did.

For me, I would just say my mental – my maturity. A lot of the guys here are younger than me and for me it’s also about being able to show and not just talk a good game. I like to lead by example, even if I’m in a situation where the guys want to go out, I may not go out or if somebody gets upset about something because I’m a little bit older and been through more situations then some of these guys have, I may have more insight. The experiences I’ve had can help other people. Definitely something that I bring to the table and something that makes me more apart of the team.

What was it like joining an already established team, and you being the new player?

Honestly, it wasn’t bad. Darius is on the team and because of that, I’ve met a couple of the guys before when they played in Philly and talked to some on the phone before joining the team. When I first came in, I was on the west coast tour where maybe I knew two people beforehand. I just try and find where I fit in, again this is basketball and being on a basketball team for me is nothing new, it’s just finding your spot and learning how to communicate with everybody.

Everything has been smooth for me, on the West coast tour I would say by the second day I knew everybody’s name, everybody knew me, I spoke cordially with everybody and had conversations with people outside of the locker room. Also everybody has been really receptive which definitely helps a lot. Nobody was closed off or refusing to speak to me because I’m new.

Everybody has been great helping me get on board, making sure I know things and it’s been good. Once I came over to this tour with Darius it got a lot easier, honestly because he’s somebody I can freely speak to and can always be very transparent with. If I feel like there’s something that I don’t know, I can always ask him and he’ll give me an honest answer. Also because everyone knew I know Darius and how close we are, they trusted his judgment and it was just as though I knew everybody for months. Everything has been going smooth.

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Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I just got appointed a bigger role for my youth league. We just got a new athletic director for our high school. Our old athletic director was my older cousin who passed away this past year. The person who ran the organization previously for the past 15 years just took over as athletic director. He is probably the best person to be put in this position and once he took that over, he needed help running the basketball portion of the youth organization, so I’ll be helping him and taking on a bigger role.

I’m just trying to shed light on this organization, trying to get them sponsorships so that we can give as many kids opportunities not only in basketball, but also helping them be more positive. That’s the main thing for our organization to have kids have things to do and not just idle and not have jobs, with no where to go. We try and keep events during the summer and some during the school year so they have things to do after school as well.

After talking to Will, it’s clear that he was born to play basketball, but what’s also clear is the pride he takes in helping, leading and being an example to those who also share the same love for the game that he does. His good qualities of maintaining his morals, being a good person, valuing his friends and family make him not just great on the court, but off of it as well. Will is living his dream of playing basketball at a high level, something that he knew he would do from day one, and is truly an example of what believing in yourself can do.

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