Monday, October 11th, 2010
“I am a native Washingtonian and like to call this city a big country town. I was a basketball star a few pounds ago, to say the least. I am blessed to have played at Dematha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, one of the great national power houses. Dematha helped to put high school basketball on the map as a sport to watch. Lew Alcindor, most people know him as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, only lost one game in high school and two in college. Each of those games involved someone from Dematha. He would rip me when I saw him by not giving me the best interview.
“After high school, I was blessed to use my athletic talent to go to a great academic college, Harvard. From there, I thought that I was going to be a professional basketball player. While it didn’t work out to be a player, I have been blessed to be on the periphery of sports as a sports broadcaster. There are a number of people from Washington D.C. who had a hand in my career, starting with Petey Greene. It was on his program, on the old WDCA Channel 20, that he steered me over to the sports department to interview for a position as an analyst for the then Washington Bullets.
“When I think back on sports in D.C., I think of the old Washington Senators. As a little kid, I was a baseball fanatic. While I wasn’t born at the time, I think about the old Negro League baseball teams that played here, especially the Homestead Grays. My grandfather owned a baseball team down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, appropriately called the Black Sox. I would listen to all of the old guys talk about playing baseball along the Chitlin’ Circuit, as they called it.
“I think about the Washington Bullets and their championship year in 1979 when Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes and that group played. Washington was really quite a proud and hopping place then. I was so excited about getting to be a part of that sports history when I came on a year after they won as an analyst. The Bullets then went on to have some pretty tough years, but things turned around. Now, if you look at the Wizards, they got rid of all of their marquee players and even though they are playing with ‘lesser known layers,’ they’re still winning.
“Collegiately. we have some excellent teams in the area from George Mason where they had that NCAA Tournament run a few years ago with Coach Jim Larranaga. Maryland is always going to be in the thick of things. I am very proud of Georgetown and the John Thompson legacy that continues there. Washington has a rich sports history and I am very proud to be a part of that.”
James Brown, ‘J.B.,’ a 1969 graduate of Dematha Catholic High School, is the current host of The NFL Today on CBS and Inside the NFL on Showtime.