At Peekskill High School on August 8th, Elton Brand announced that he was going to retire from the NBA after 16 years. He did so in front of children that were present for the Elton Brand Youth Day. The Youth Day was started by Brand and his mother Daisy Brand several years ago. After the passing of his mother in July of 2014, the family kept the ball rolling and the camp has been a great way to support the children and youth in the Peekskill area. As the children played, Brand said that this was “the end of the run” for him and that “right now is family time.”
Brand’s career is officially over after 16 seasons that saw him play in five different cities. Prior to his arrival in the NBA, however, Brand spent two years at Duke University playing for Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski. His stellar 1998-99 campaign in Durham earned him the distinction of being named the Associated Press Player of the Year. Brand also received the John R. Wooden Award and Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award for his outstanding performance that season. He declared for the draft shortly after the season concluded and the Chicago Bulls selected him number one overall way back on June 30, 1999.
Though he only spent two years with the Bulls, he averaged 20.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 0.9 steals on 47.9 percent shooting. He was named to the 1999-2000 All-Rookie First Team and was Co-Rookie of the Year with Steve Francis. On draft night in 2001, the Bulls traded Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers for Brian Skinner and the draft rights to second overall pick Tyson Chandler. This began a 7-year career in Los Angeles for the great big man.
Over the seven years with the Clippers, Brand averaged 20.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 1.0 steals on 51.4 percent shooting. In 2002, he was named to the NBA All-Star Game and became the first Los Angeles Clipper to earn that honor since Danny Manning way back in 1994. When Brand hit restricted free agency after the 2002-03 season, the Clippers matched a contract offer from the Miami Heat that was worth six years and $82 million. It was seen as a new day for the franchise as they opted to keep what was certain to be one of the best players in team history.
In the 2005-06 season, Brand yet again made the All-Star Game as a member of the Clippers while helping lead the team to their first playoff appearance since 1997 and first winning season since 1991-92. During that season, Brand posted what still stands as his career-high in points per game; 24.7. He finished seventh in the MVP voting that season. Thanks to Brand’s contributions in the first round series against the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers won their first playoff series since their arrival in California and only the second one in franchise history – the first being back in 1976 when the Buffalo Braves defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, two games to one, thanks to a 124-123 overtime victory in Game 3 on the road in Philadelphia. The Clippers season ended one win shy of their first ever Conference Finals berth but Brand had an outstanding playoffs; averaging 25.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.6 blocks, and 0.9 steals on 55.1 percent shooting.
Brand missed most of the 2007-08 season due to rupturing his left Achilles tendon during a daily workout prior to the season. Elton did return, though. He appeared in eight games after coming back on April 2, 2008 and averaged 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds. Brand opted out of his contract at the end of the year in order to give the Clippers some payroll flexibility and get another star to pair with him. The team went out and got Baron Davis but Brand opted to leave for Philadelphia where he signed a five-year, $82 million contract with the 76ers. Brand only played four seasons and 246 games with Philadelphia before the team used the amnesty clause to waive him on July 11, 2012. Brand signed on with the Dallas Mavericks for the 2012-13 season, was productive, and ultimately signed with the Atlanta Hawks for the 2013-14 season. After a solid season with Atlanta, the Hawks re-signed him to a one year deal for the 2014-15 season and Brand averaged 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game.
During his illustrious career, Elton Brand made the Conference Finals just one time; last season with the Atlanta Hawks. Brand will go down as one of the best power forwards and big men in recent memory, especially for his peak career production which saw him average 20.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 blocks, and 0.9 steals on 50.5 percent shooting from 1999-2000 through 2006-2007. Brand was consistent, hardworking, and determined. He gave it his all on the court and was a two-way player. His career, counting college, spanned 18 seasons and saw him win several awards, get named to several high profile teams, make two All-Star appearances, and finish in the top ten of an MVP voting. While his time with the Clippers ended rather less than ideal, he was still one of the best big men of his generation.
Brand finishes up being seventh in games played in Clippers franchise history, second in minutes played, third in field goals made, third in field goal attempts, third in free throws made, third in free throw attempts, first in offensive rebounds, fifth in defensive rebounds, first in total rebounds, second in blocks, and third in points. His 24.7 points per game in 2005-06 still stands as the sixth most in Clippers history and the most by a Clipper since 1980. His Player Efficiency Rating of 26.5 in 2005-06 ranks second highest all-time in franchise history. Only Chris Paul’s 27.0 mark in 2011-12 tops it. And, last season, DeAndre Jordan finished with 397 offensive rebounds which bested Elton Brand’s longstanding franchise record of 396 in 2001-02.
Thank you for everything you ever did for the Clippers organization and for the game of basketball itself. Thank you for continuing on your work with the youth of the Peekskill and Westchester County area. And, most of all, thank you for bringing your lunch pail to work every single day and giving the Clippers an identity for several years. While your departure from Los Angeles may have stung some fans in a way that they’d never forgive, you were Clipper basketball for so many more. Thank you, Elton Brand. And good luck in all your future endeavors.