Well Scouted Player: Brown of Wingate Rated Top Performer in Scholastic Basketball Today(New York Times February 24, 1959)

Basketball Star Is No Prima Donna: Bad Day at Garden Leads to Unhappy Time for Brown (New York Times March 3, 1959)

City's Best Meet Today: Brown and Hawkins to Lead Quintets (New York Times March 15, 1960)

Boys High Tops Wingate, 62-59 and Reaches P.S.A.L. Final (New York Times March 16, 1960)

Roger Brown Finally Makes It to the NBA - But As a Coach (New York Times February 14, 1980)

March 6, 1997 New York Times

Roger Brown, Basketball Star From Brooklyn, Is Dead at 54


Roger Brown, the former high school star from Brooklyn who was denied a chance to compete in college or in the National Basketball Association but who played eight sterling seasons for the Indiana Pacers of the American Basketball Association, died on Tuesday at the home of a friend in Indianapolis. He was 54 and had been suffering from liver cancer for the last year.

He may not have been the best basketball player to come out of Brooklyn, but anyone who saw him score 37 points for Wingate High School in the semifinals of the New York City Public Schools Athletic League tournament in 1960 can be forgiven for insisting that Roger William Brown was that and more.

After all, one of the opposing players at Madison Square Garden that night was Connie Hawkins of Boys High, another Brooklyn sensation who found the experience of trying to contain Brown's will-o'-the-wisp moves so frustrating that he fouled out in the third quarter even as Boys pulled out a victory.

The Garden fans could also be forgiven if they lapsed into reverie and saw the high school matchup as a preview of certain glory. For after watching Brown execute his hook shots, make his swivel-hipped drives to the basket and score with his trademark one-handed fadeaway jumpers, it did not require much creative license to imagine that after a stellar college career he would return to the Garden to sparkle for the Knicks.

After all, he and Hawkins were not only the best high school players in the city, but were also regarded as among the best in the nation. And when they both won scholarships -- Hawkins to the University of Iowa and Brown to the University of Dayton -- it seemed only a matter of time.

That fall, Brown led his freshman team to impressive victories. Then disaster struck. As high school buddies, both Brown and Hawkins had been befriended by Jack Molinas, a onetime Columbia all-America basketball player who had been banned from the N.B.A. for betting on games and who had gone on to fix both pro and college games by paying players to shave points.

No one accused Brown or Hawkins of shaving points, but the two had accepted favors from Molinas and that was shady enough to cost them their scholarships and to lead the N.B.A. to blacklist them.

Bewildered by the development, Brown was plunged into despair, but after a period of aimlessness in Brooklyn, he pulled himself together and returned to Dayton, Ohio, where he took a job on the night shift at the local General Motors plant.

He might have remained there if a group of businessmen had not started a new league, called the American Basketball Association, which began play in the fall of 1967 with teams that included an Indianapolis franchise known as the Indiana Pacers.

Acting on a tip from the N.B.A. star Oscar Robertson, the general manager of the Pacers tracked Brown down and signed him as the Pacers' first player.

Brown, who was 25 years old and 6 feet 5 inches, had been playing in industrial leagues, but he soon showed why New York fans had marked him as a star. Over the next eight seasons, he led the Pacers to three A.B.A. championships, averaged almost 18 points a game, became the league's first 10,000-point scorer and left more than a few rivals sprawling with his wiggling, fast-fake drives.

In one memorable, 15-game playoff stretch in 1970, Brown averaged 28.5 points, including games of 53, 39 and 45 points in the championship series against the Los Angeles Stars.

Before his career was over, the N.B.A. had lifted its ban after an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit against the league. But Brown did not join Hawkins and other A.B.A. players who jumped to the N.B.A.

It was, Brown said, a matter of loyalty to a league and a team that had given him a chance.

By the time the two leagues merged in 1976, Brown's playing days were over, and so was a brief fling in politics that had led him to serve a four-year term as a Republican on the Indianapolis City Council.

He later dabbled in business in Indianapolis, served as an assistant coach with the Pacers and one as coach of a Continental Basketball Association team in Evansville.

After his cancer was diagnosed last spring, and it was learned he had a few months to live, he was lionized at fund-raisers in Indianapolis.

His survivors include three sons, Roger Jr. of Lyndhurst, Md.; Rodney Mallory of Indianapolis and Roger 3d of Indianapolis; four daughters, Stacey Hicks of Neptune, N.J., and Gail, Destiny and Melissa of Indianapolis; two sisters, Judith Campbell of Brooklyn and Ellen Thomas of San Diego; one brother, Charles Richard Brown of Brooklyn, and six grandchildren.