I love and hate surprises.
I hate surprise birthday parties, everyone lying to you and then jumping out and yelling “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” while you stand there with a Tyler Hansbrough deer-in-the-headlights expression, completely unaware that you have just been had by your closest friends and family.
I hate the surprise of getting sick. One day you are feeling perfectly perfect and then, like a freight train hitting you at full speed, your throat is raw, your eyes are scratchy and your stomach feels like it is riding the freaken’ Viper at Six Flags while the rest of your body stays put.
But then there are the pleasant surprises of life. The ones you don’t quite see coming; the ones that blindside you and leave you smiling and nodding your head in disbelief at the randomness and spontaneity of life.
Falling in love, finding the perfect song for the summer, finding a ten-dollar bill on the sidewalk, Shannon Brown.
These are the good surprises.
Back in February when the Lakers shipped off Vlad Radmanovic to Charlotte, little to none of the talk surrounded Shannon Brown, we were all too twitterpated over the arrival of Adam Morrison and his pube-stache and OneTouch Ultra.
Nobody seemed to care that the Lakers were also receiving the 2003 Illinois Mr. Basketball, a title that has previously been won by the likes of Kevin Garnett, Shaun Livingston, Derrick Rose and Darius Miles (okay, lets not forget former Laker Brian Cook, winner of the 1999 award).
Most Laker fans viewed Shannon Brown as simply a throw in to make the trade work. Another cast off in a short career seemingly filled with them.
Brown was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 25th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, but was quickly lost in the shuffle after the Cavs second round pick, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, made a name for himself during the 2007 Playoffs, when he erupted in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals for 31 points, 19 of which he scored in the fourth quarter.
To Shannon, it seemed as if his NBA career was over before it had started. In his first two NBA seasons with the Cavaliers, Shannon only played in 38 games averaging a little over 11 minutes per game.
His third season didn’t prove to be any more fruitful. In 2007-08, he only appeared in six games for his hometown Chicago Bulls before his Rookie contract expired.
Shannon remained resolute, signing with the Charlotte Bobcats at the beginning of this season, and with the faith of coach Larry Brown, Shannon began to show shades of what would eventually come to pass. The best game of his young career came ironically against the Lakers, ten days before joined them.
In 22 minutes off the bench Shannon Brown scored 14 points and drew a late contact from Kobe Bryant in overtime that fouled him out, an event that Kobe has regarded as perhaps the reason the Lakers did not achieve the league’s best record, all thanks to the efforts of Shannon Brown.
We all should have known the second that Shannon Brown flew through the air and blocked Flip Murray of the Atlanta Hawks that Mitch Kupchak had found someone very, very special.
As Shannon’s playing time increased, and eventually eclipsed that of Jordan Farmar, we have begun to see perhaps the next evolution of Laker point guards. In many ways, Shannon is a hybrid of Jordan and Derek, strong enough to battle the Deron Williamses of the world, yet springy and bouncy to no end.
But, it is what Shannon Brown brings off the court that makes this writer a real fan of his. It is that infectious smile, that wide-eyed, unspoiled “just happy to be here” mentality that makes him a joy to watch. He is everything that is good about basketball, rising from obscurity to crack the rotation in the midst of a playoff run.
And the best part, the best thing about it is that we have only begun to peel off a corner of the wrapping paper of the Shannon Brown present, it is only going to get better from here.