Brown starred at Illinois from 2002-06 and helped the Illini to a NCAA tournament runner-up finish in 2005. He was voted the Big Ten Player of the Year for the 2004-05 season. He was recruited by former Illinois coach Bill Self, played one season for Self and closed out his college career with Weber. He currently plays professionally for Banca Tercas Teramo in Italy.
Brown recently received backlash from Illinois fans after Tweeting on Feb. 17, “ALOT of things was said about me...I got a great memory! NOWtables turn! Things not going well what do MR.WEBER have to say now?? MUST READ.”
Brown’s Tweet came two days after Illinois lost to Purdue, and Weber expressed frustrations with himself, his players and the program in a postgame press conference. The Illini have since lost two consecutive games and have dropped nine of their last 10 contests. Weber’s job security has come into further question with each defeat.
Brown was reluctant to be interviewed about his comments, but he agreed to it Friday night because he felt it was important for Illinois fans to understand where he was coming from.
Brown explained in detail what he meant by his Tweet. He first explained how it is sometimes difficult to be one of Weber’s players because he can be so honest in the media. He believed Weber’s players have never spoken negatively about him to the press.
“I remember different situations that went on when I was playing for coach Weber, where he would say things to the media that I thought shouldn't have been said because if you are a family some things should be kept in-house,” Brown wrote in an email. “Yes, he's an honest guy. But you can’t bring up an article or statement from a player who had an interview that said anything about coach in a negative way after a loss or during a bad time in the season.
“You can’t do it, because it’s a certain respect you carry when playing on a team and saying things about the person who runs the ship. It’s inappropriate.”
Brown was especially disappointed to read Weber’s comments about sophomore Meyers Leonard after the Purdue loss. Weber criticized Leonard for his body language and effort.
“No one can sit here and say if their boss at work talked down about them in the media they wouldn't feel a certain way,” Brown wrote. “You would be lying. He is honest and he speaks his mind, but it’s a time and place for that. What he said about Meyers, he could have called him into his office, held a team meeting and expressed his feelings in front of everyone. Maybe he did it, but now every Illini fan, scout, other team knows how he feels about big fella! But again, this is my opinion and I will stop talking about it, but that situation moved me because it’s not the first time.”
Brown did regret calling him Mr. Weber in his Tweet.
“I meant nothing by that,” Brown wrote. “I should have said coach because he's the coach, was my coach, so I understand that was wrong to say, but it’s respectful. I would love for someone to say Mr. Brown.”
He explained what he meant by, “Things not going well what do MR.WEBER have to say now?? MUST READ.”
“I was wondering what coach would say about the situation going on, would he say comments about himself or the players,” Brown wrote. “Then, when I woke up, I read comments he said about his star player [Leonard]. Right or wrong, in my opinion, because I have a strong one about my school, those things shouldn’t have been said about your players. I knew it would happen, so that’s why I said, ‘MUST READ,’ and see what he had to say.”
Illinois fans called out Brown’s allegiance to the program and Weber after his Tweet, and Brown spent a majority of the following day answering fans’ questions.
“People love Coach Weber, [and] I have tons of respect for him, so I was just writing what I felt at the time,” Brown explained. “I cleared a lot of things up on Twitter as I sat and talked to fans all day because I'm very saddened with what’s going on down in Champaign because I'm a huge fan!
“When things are going bad, people get on you, and it’s crazy to see everyone turning on coach. But he has been in the business a long time. I think he understands it by now. Fans really thought I didn't take up for him by writing what I did. I read my Tweet over and over. I said, ‘What did I say wrong or bad besides calling him Mr. Weber?’”
Brown thinks he and Weber had a unique partnership because he wasn’t Weber’s recruit, but he was still his player. Brown said he supported Weber then and still does now.
“I have no problem with coach Weber,” Brown wrote. “He has helped my game. We have won games, championships together. I have never had a problem with him because our relationship was more business than anything when I think about it. He didn't recruit me, so I wasn't one of his guys, so off the court we didn't have to be friends or he didn't have to be like a father figure to me.
“When I stepped on that court, that’s when things worked out because I loved playing for him in that system he has. Motion fit my game perfect -- run and shoot, using multiple screens was perfect for me. I loved his basketball mind and defensive strategies. Honestly, when I played for him, it was like I never felt like we can lose because how prepared we always were. I honestly only had one problem with him, and that’s how he speaks in the media about his players.
“Other than that, Bruce Weber is a great coach, with a crazy basketball IQ. He's always carrying notes, plays, game plans everywhere he goes. I mean he loves basketball, so I loved playing for him and he did a lot for my game.”
Brown didn’t think Weber should be fired either.
“No, no, no, no,” Brown wrote. “Four nos, in my opinion, should he get fired. I’m not the AD. I’m not in that position, so it’s only my opinion. There's a lot of fans screaming it. It’s crazy to me because how successful he has been over the years.
“I say no because I know he's a great coach, I love his system, he has made me a better player and gave me knowledge that has allowed me to become a good professional ball player. It’s just tough times right now. I pray things get better for the program and coach.”
Brown’s biggest fault with the current team, which is now 5-10 in the Big Ten, was its defense.
“The team is not playing well right now,” Brown said. “I can only talk from afar because I’m over here watching, so I can't say too much. Yes, they can play better. What really bothers me is they’re not guarding. You gotta defend playing for coach.”
Brown also wanted to get a message out to the Illinois program and its fans.
“In my closing remarks, I didn't know if I really wanted to do this interview because I did get personal, and I know this wouldn't be the right time due to the situation coach is going through, but I wanted to clear up things said and clarify what I meant, my views and opinions on what’s going on down in Champaign. I don't know how people will take what I said in this interview, but I know myself, my loyalty, my passion and love for not only basketball but for my school! I love my school.
“I want to thank the wonderful coaching staff down there who helped me get to where I am. I’m so grateful and humbled to have played for you guys, wish I was still there or y'all could coach me for the rest of my career. I have so much love and respect for what you do and have done. Be proud.
“Thanks to all the fans who have always shown me love and support. Means a lot! Go Illini. Me and my family bleed orange and blue. Illini nation will always see me. I will always be there. Whatever you need, I got gotcha because it’s always love.”