by Bruce W. Biesenthal

Dee Brown is an investor.

Oh, his title is Director of Player Development for the Orlando Magic of the NBA, and he serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations, and he’s a partner in a venture capital company, but he’s really an investor.

The outcome he invests in can’t be bought or sold, nor can it be sold on the futures board.

Dee Brown invests in life.

Actually, at age 34, Dee Brown is simply following his own prescription for life – grow and touch the people around so they can grow as well.

His own development began early in life. “I never wanted to settle for being good”, he says. “I wanted to be the best at everything – whether it was basketball; academics or life skills. I learned that if you really want to achieve something, it’s up to you. You set a goal, knock it down, and keep right on growing.”

After an outstanding NBA career that began, inauspiciously enough with Dee being held by police officers at gun-point in a case of mistaken identity, and that ended 13 solid years later, with a Slam Dunk Championship tossed in, Dee saw his retirement as a launching pad for the rest of his life. “Basketball was a stepping stone,” he says, “I met people I wouldn’t otherwise meet.

“My whole career was a thrill. I was a first round draft pick of the Boston Celtics (1990), the most storied franchise in NBA history. I played night in and night out in front of 20,000 people, at the highest level, against the best in the game. Every night was a highlight.

“But I really don’t miss it.
I left the game absolutely fulfilled. There are so many other things to do, and I’m enjoying them all. There are bigger things out there. I can’t see myself sitting home and not bringing value to someone.”

Dee has brought value everywhere he has been. As the coach of the WNBA Orlando Miracle, a franchise which has since moved to Connecticut, Dee invested himself in his players during his one-year tenure. “I tried to instill a sense of professionalism. Everything is based on winning and losing, but I tried to put in a tone of trust for each other, and for God. I hope I changed some hearts. It was a great experience. If the team was still in Orlando, I’d still be coaching them – but I didn’t want to leave my family.”

To say that family is important to Dee is an understatement. Those who are continually in the business of investing themselves in others sometimes find themselves depleted of their own strength and resources. “I drain myself in what I do, but my family replenishes me. My family grows with me. My wife, Tammy, and I not only support each other but push each other in our own development. And there’s no greater joy than watching my three daughters grow in their faith.”

It’s Tammy who does a good deal of the work of the Tammy and Dee Brown Foundation, an organization which, of course, invests itself in the development of others. “We’re interested in growing parents,” Dee relates. “There’s no manual for how to be a parent. We do a lot of work with organizations that take in runaway or abused kids. We throw parties and do events for them. We spend time with them and talk to them. The whole point is to get them to grow in their understanding of life.”

That’ what Dee does with the Orlando Magic. It’s an interesting position. There are teams with Directors of Player Development whose responsibilities focus on improving the players’ athletic development. Not so the Magic. According to Dee, the owner of the Magic, Rich DeVos, is committed to the development of every employee, and has a desire to “build great men.” That task is entrusted to the Director of Player Development.

Dee’s job with the Magic is to be a resource for the players’ mental, emotional and spiritual growth. The emphasis is truly on the word development. Dee works with the players on a day-to-day basis on life skill development, career development, educational development. Dee’s focus is the players’ development off the court, transitioning them for life beyond professional basketball.

“I have no interest in them other than their growth,” says Dee. “I have been in the public eye, and now I’m in the background. I like being in the background. I like planting seeds. I like seeing things work out. I like seeing things grow. I like working with all the guys, whether it’s Tracy McGrady, one of the best players in the league, or a guy on a 10 day contract.

“I love when we win and hate when we lose, but how the guys conduct themselves after a win or loss, or how they conduct themselves professionally in the community is what I look to.

“I’ve never see a player play forever. I tell the guys, ‘Once you take the uniform off, your value decreases. What can you offer after that? Can you offer a hand? Can you get people to follow you not because you can shoot a jumper and you’re their favorite player, but because you’re going in the right direction and they love the way you touch people.’

“To see a guy five years later and see that he’s changed, that’s the reward. Then you know you’ve touched someone. God doesn’t have a timetable for how and when He works in people. My job is just to plant the seed, move it now and then, and nurture it.”

Dee’s own development hasn’t stopped simply because he’s no longer on the court. “I played basketball, but I’m not a basketball player. God has a calling for me to do other things, with my children, my family, my businesses, my church and my life. I’m still growing. I still turn to other people to have them point me in the right direction when I need it.

“If I’m going to help others grow, I need to continue growing myself. If I’m touching people and I stop growing, then there’s no point or purpose to what I do and what I’m about.”

And Dee Brown is unquestionably about investing – in the character development of the Magic players, in the struggling kids his and Tammy’s foundation helps, in his own family, and in his faith.

And the market is definitely up.