LAS VEGAS, Nev. – They say there’s no room for emotion in business.
Tell that to Randy Brown, the former New Mexico State University great and three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, who is entering his third season as that franchise’s assistant general manager.
The 46-year-old Brown, proudly donning his Bulls polo shirt, sat courtside Sunday evening in the Cox Pavilion scribbling notes on the players hoping not only to advance past this week’s NBA Summer League action and into this fall’s Chicago training camp, but eventually trying to earn a spot on the team’s regular season roster.
And in those notes were plenty of mentions of three former University of New Mexico Lobos – 2013 first-round draft pick Tony Snell, last month’s second-round draft pick Cameron Bairstow and summer league roster invitee Kendall Williams.
“Makes my skin crawl every time I think about it,” Brown said when asked about having such a UNM presence on the team.
“But I get past it when I see them wearing a Chicago Bulls shirt or jersey and helping us win. I get past it quickly.”
Not only was the proud former Aggie trying to put aside his deep-rooted anti-Lobo bias, but those three Lobos were actually performing quite well, and often with all three on the court at the same time Sunday in a lopsided 103-76 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Snell scored 23 points, hit five 3-pointers, dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds. For the second straight day, he was quite the popular postgame interview for the national and Chicago-based media covering the event.
Bairstow grabbed six rebounds and scored six points while Williams, in 17 minutes on the floor, hit a pair of 3-pointers for six points to go along with two rebounds, two steals and an assist.
“They’re all doing well,” Brown said. “We’re glad we’ve got those guys here.”
Saying that about a Lobo probably wouldn’t be all that easy for Brown had it not been for those three championship seasons he spent with the Bulls alongside former Lobo great Luc Longley.
“That’s where it all began, with Luc,” Brown said with a smile.
“I had some rivalries with Luc. Then he became my teammate, and I realized he was a good guy. I learned a Lobo can be a good guy, and I learned to turn the other cheek.”
For the record, Brown’s Aggies went 3-1 against the Lobos in the two seasons he and Longley battled in 1989-90 and 1990-91. That’s something of which Brown and his boss, general manager Gar Forman, are surely aware.
After all, it was Forman, the longtime NMSU assistant coach to Neil McCarthy, who recruited Brown to come to Las Cruces after he had decided to transfer following two seasons at the University of Houston.
And to this day, Brown remains grateful to Forman.
“I gave up some opportunities to go to some big schools to go play at New Mexico State, and that was because Gar Forman believed in me,” Brown said.
“My two years there were incredible, man. I wish I could have gone there four years. The opportunities they gave me I’ll never forget. They basically paved my way to becoming an NBA player.”
And do those two NMSU Aggies now making their living in the front office of one of the NBA’s most storied franchises still have time to reflect on the team that first brought them together a quarter century ago?
“Absolutely,” Brown said. “Gar and I always follow what’s going on. … We’re constantly watching basketball, obviously, and we’re always seeing what’s going on with the Aggies.”
And it seems they’ve been keeping a lot of tabs on what those once-hated Lobos have been doing in recent years, too.
FAMILIAR FACES IN THE STANDS: While Bairstow, Williams and Snell were on the court playing for the Bulls on Sunday night, a pair of their recruiting Class of 2010 UNM teammates were cheering them on from the stands.
Four year walk-on Chris Perez and Alex Kirk, who was donning a pair of Lobo shorts in the stands a couple hours after he played in a Summer League game in Cox Pavilion for the Cleveland Cavaliers, were on hand.
Not only that, three of the UNM team managers who spent most of the past four years with those players were also on hand in Las Vegas – Ryan Berryman, Tyler Pientka and Conner O’Hea.