His restaurant is still serving up burgers and hot dogs "with the fries on the top." The wife and kids are still living in Salt Lake. And he's still the Brown Bear, wherever he goes.
Mike Brown, who was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves last summer for Felton Spencer, said Saturday that it is business as usual back in Salt Lake, even though he lives in Minneapelis. And the nickname that made him famous in Salt Lake - the Brown Bear - remains. "I'm still the Brown Bear, even here," said Brown. "Now the Brown Bear joins the Pack."After five seasons with the Jazz, Brown says his move to the Timberwolves was a good one. The Jazz were a veteran team with three stars who took care of the bulk of the work. But in Minnesota, Brown says he has been asked to serve as a veteran presence on a young team that needs leadership and stability.
"Here we have a lot of scorers. It's not like in Utah where it was all just coming from John (Stockton) and Karl (Malone) and Jeff (Malone). Here, four of the five starters averaged 14 points a game. Here there are a lot of people who can put numbers on the board."
When Brown was traded June 30, he left behind a restaurant in Sugar House, called "Brown Bear's Burgers and Dogs." He says business continues there as usual. Saturday night at the Jazz-Timberwolves game, there were some employees and two people who won a free trip through a restaurant-sponsored contest. "So they're enjoying a trip on the Brown Bear," he said. "There's a nice little Brown Bear clientele here."
Brown said his family will be moving to Minneapolis within the next month. But he plans to keep his home in Salt Lake and said it will remain his off-season home.
On his first regular season night with the Timberwolves, Brown scored 10 points and added four rebounds in 25 minutes in a loss to Detroit. Against the Jazz he added five rebounds and five points. During the exhibition season he led the Timberwolves in rebounding twice, including a nine-rebound effort against Milwaukee.
Brown is the second Jazzman in the past two years to be traded to Minnesota. Thurl Bailey came to the Timberwolves in November, 1991, in a deal that sent Tyrone Corbin to Utah. Brown said the presence of Bailey helped him get settled in a new city.
"I had no problem with the trade," said Brown. "I figured they were going to trade me, so I was prepared to go. I didn't feel betrayed."
Brown pointed out that he played last season with painful bone spurs in his foot, which he felt accounted for a one-rebound, two-point dip in his averages. "But it was a good move. I enjoyed Utah and I still have friends and my home and my business are stil there. But I can help with building a program with this team."
Brown said his role is less rigid in Minnesota. "My role isn't as defined here. In Utah I guess it was to stand out on the edge and point out illegal defense," he laughed. "My buddies said I was the best in the NBA at that. Here, it is a young team and everything changes each game. We try various ways to win."