For the past 25 years, Lynford Brown has been working diligently to make his mark in Jamaican basketball. Now, at 38 years old with multiple awards and championships under his belt, he is confident that he has done just that and is focused on giving back.
His journey started at St Catherine High School which had an impressive basketball programme at the time. Although he dabbled in football and track and field at first, he settled on basketball as according to him, it was the most structured programme.
“Basketball was a big part of St Catherine High’s culture so it was easy to gravitate towards that sport. St Catherine High was one of the pillars, the foundation of basketball in Jamaica,” he said.
Brown’s knowledge of the game was very limited, but he was successful in what he described as “textbook” execution of the layups instructed by the high school coach during the tryouts and he secured his spot on the under 14 team.
Cemented future in Basketball
“The goal at that time was to garner as much knowledge as possible, learn the game, and play the game properly-that was the main aim at the time,” he said.
His focus paid off as he progressed to the under 16 and under 19 teams. As co-captain of the under 19 team, Brown led the team to win the National Championship in 2003.
“My team was the first team in the modern era to win a trophy for St Catherine High,” he said proudly.
Brown described his high school basketball journey as some of his more formidable years as he was averaging 28 points per game.
After completing St Catherine High, he went on to the GC Foster College where he studied Physical Education and played for the college’s basketball team.
“GC Foster was where I cemented my future in basketball. Coming from St Catherine High I had the prerequisite tools I needed, but I was given the opportunity to really utilize these tools at GC Foster College,” he said.
Brown was awarded male student-athlete of the year while at GC Foster College
He was also co-captain of the team and it remained undefeated in the national competition for three consecutive years.
“Before we went on that three-year runs, GC hadn’t won in ages,” Brown pointed out.
In 2011, he was recognized for his skills on the court, his leadership qualities, and his discipline by being awarded the Male College Athlete of the Year at GC Foster.
“One of my fondest memories of GC Foster was the fact that me going there was instrumental in creating the winning culture that GC Foster currently has because guys came in and saw what was happening and they followed suit,” he said.
While a student-athlete at GC Foster College, Brown also played club basketball. He played for the Running Rebels, Blazing Panthers, and the Aqua Youth Team at different points.
After graduating from college, he worked to develop the game while still being an active player.
“I taught at the Jonathan Grant High school and the Jose Marti High School for a year, respectively. I worked to revamp female basketball at Jonathan Grant and was instrumental in developing future basketballers at Jose Marti.”
Brown also went back to GC Foster College, but this time as a lecturer and head coach of their basketball team. Afterwhich he also served as head coach of the basketball team at Moneague College.
He also had a number of stints playing for the National Basketball team. His first time playing for the national team was in 2011 at a championship in the Bahamas where Jamaica finished third. For another three consecutive years, he was the only locally-based player on the National Team. Although this is something that he was proud of, it made him painfully aware of the inadequacies of the game’s development at home.
Brown was the only locally based national player on Jamaica’s national team for three years
This motivated him to play to the best of his abilities, and ensure that his game was always up to par with the overseas-based players.
“The fundamentals of the game are just the fundamentals, it doesn’t matter where you are or where you play, the fundamentals are the same. And if you have a hard foundation then you will be able to be plugged in. If your IQ is high then you should be able to plug in in any team,” he asserts.
At one point, Brown said he wanted to be plugged into a division one college team before playing in a European league. He blames politics for that dream not coming to fruition, however, playing for his country is an achievement he is very proud of and has his first jersey framed as a testament.
Locally, Brown said he is pleased to see how much the game has grown in popularity and that more locally based players are making the national team. However, he believes the IQ of players is lacking.
“I don’t think it’s as high as it should be. I think the players are watching the game, but I don’t think they’re watching the detailed stuff, the intricacies of the game, they’re just playing athletically-running and jumping. It shouldn’t be a case where you only have a few players to plug into the national team, we should be cultured in such a way that you seamlessly plug players into that level,” he said.
He says he has been doing his part by informally mentoring and coaching youth in his immediate environment who has an interest in the game.
Brown is also a part of P.H.A.S.E.1’s pro team, however, he said his involvement on the team is more about giving back than career progression.
“I’ve gained the exposure, it is about giving back and developing my community which I’ve always wanted to be a part of. Working with the developmental aspects of the game, that is where I am more focused right now cause being an educator, I like to see the result of the end product,” he said.
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