The Ten Greatest Players In Supersonics History - #5

USATODAY

In this installment of our ongoing series of the ten greatest Sonics: we celebrate a 70s Sonic legend, learn that the past can be a foreign country, and wonder why televised HORSE went the way of the handlebar mustache.

5. "Downtown" Fred Brown.

Freddie Brown was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft out of the University of Iowa, where his senior year he averaged 27.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG while shooting 50% from the floor and 80% from the line.

Brown played his entire 13-year career with the Supersonics, making the playoffs eight times in that span, including two Finals appearances and one NBA Championship. After Spencer Haywood he was probably the franchise’s second most valuable player in its history at that time. Brown was a highly effective and durable shooting guard during his tenure in the league. He was an invaluable part of the Supersonics championship-era squad along with Jack Sikma, and was a team captain for much of his Sonic career. He scored the second-most points in franchise history behind Gary Payton, and his number 32 was rightfully retired by the team in 1986.

Qualifier: I can barely remember seeing Brown play (heck, I can barely remember Dr. J who was the hands down marquee superstar of the league in those days) but his range was well-known. It was once said of Brown that he could "hit it from the locker room in. " The NBA did not adopt the three-point shot until the 1979-80 season. I’ve often heard the claim that had there been a 3-point earlier in his career, he would have scored much more. Examining the numbers, the first season of its adoption Brown posted career highs in percentage, attempts and makes, however the volume of his numbers didn’t put him in the category of a stone cold gunner like Rick Barry, or even Larry Bird… and his attempts went down from there in the last few years of his career. Interesting.

I do remember that in the late 70s teams didn’t use the 3-pointer the way they do today partially because it was still regarded as a bit of a gimmick, but mostly because the way the game was called back then, it was a far more high-percentage play to attack the basket and draw an easy and-1 foul called on continuation (which the Showtime Lakers took FULL advantage of I assure you.) I’m not at all doubting Brown was a good, even great shooter, just saying the game was quite different in the late 70s and it’s not a given that Brown would have been a high-volume 3-point marksman.

Following his NBA career Brown worked at SeaFirst/Bank of America, where he retired as a senior vice president after 15 years. Brown was the subject of some notoriety a couple years ago when he sold his NBA Championship ring at auction for $115,242.

Here’s Fred Brown playing HORSE against Brian Winters (whose mustache must be seen to be believed) in 1978. How come they never show stuff like THIS on TV anymore, David Stern? Groove-a-licious.

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