Brandon, Terrell 1970–
Terrell Brandon 1970–
Professional basketball player
Referred to by Richard Hoffer in Sports Illustrated. as “Arguably the most complete point guard in the NBA,” Terrell Brandon became an All-Star the first year he assumed a starting role on the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995 despite his relatively short NBA stature of 5’11”. He also has established a reputation for selflessness and modesty in a game where flash and boasting are often standard for superstars. Nicknamed “Tee Bee” and “Candyman,” Brandon is a highly reclusive player who has never sought to cash in on any product endorsements or opportunities for publicity. “This life is easy if you let it be,” he told Sports Illustrated. “I won’t complicate mine. I play the game, go home, wait for the next day. I don’t want any stress in my life.”
Basketball did not seem a likely future pursuit for Brandon when he was a child. He was born in Portland, Oregon, with extremely crooked legs that required him to be fitted with a corrective brace. Doctors were not sure he would ever be able to walk normally and, according to Hoffer, considered breaking Brandon’s legs to try and realign them properly. Brandon has often credited his parents for helping him rise above his handicap during his early years, and he has remained close to them as an adult. His father, Charles Brandon, supervised a supply store at Oregon Health Sciences University and was an associate pastor in a Pentecostal church for nearly a quarter century. From him the young Brandon learned the importance of hard work and never giving up.
Brandon honed his game on the outdoor courts at Irving Park in northeast Portland and was a star at Grant High School. He stayed relatively close to home after graduation by attending the University of Oregon, where he majored in leisure studies and services. Brandon was named to the All-Pacific 10 Conference First Team in both of his varsity seasons with Oregon. As a sophomore he was Oregon’s most valuable player, logging up per-game averages of 17.9 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.9 steals. He really hit his stride as a junior, when he was named Player-of-the-Year in the Pac-10 with a 26.6 points-per-game average, which was the third-highest mark in Conference history. He finished his three years of college ball after setting school records for scoring average, points (745), and steals (63) in a season. He entered the professional National Basketball Association (NBA) draft as a college junior, and was
Born Thomas Terrell Brandon, May 20, 1970, in Portland, OR; son of Charles and Charlotte Brandon; children: Trevor. Education: Univ. of Oregon.
Top player on college team at Univ. of Oregon, 1989-91; selected in first round (11th pick overall) of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by Cleveland Cavaliers, 1991; became starter on Cavaliers, 1995; had surgery for leg injury, 1995; led Cavaliers in scoring, assists, and steals, 1995-97; assumed ownership of a commercial complex, Portland, OR, 1996; hosted free basketball clinic for youths, Cleveland, OH, 1996, 1997; traded to Milwaukee Bucks, 1997-.
Awards and honors: All-Pacific 10 College Conference First Team, 1989-90, 1990-91; Pacific 10 College Conference Player-of-the-Year, 1990-91; NBA All-Rookie Second Team, 1991-92; NBA All-Star Team, 1995-96, 1996-97; NBA Sportsmanship Award, 1996-97.
Addresses: Milwaukee Bucks, Bradley Center, 1001 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee, Wl 53203; Residences—Brecksville, Ohio; Portland, Oregon.
picked up in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, making him the eleventh overall pick that year. It was uphill from there for Brandon, since he played the same position as Cleveland’s well-established, perennial All-Star point guard Mark Price, one of the best in the league.
Bad habits haunted the rookie during his early days as a professional, as Brandon often focused too much on shooting the ball rather than passing it. He improved steadily, however, and was the only Cavalier to see action in every game of the regular 1991-92 season, averaging 7.4 points in slightly under twenty minutes of playing time per game and starting in nine contests. His efforts were duly noted by the NBA, as Brandon was named to the league’s 1992 All-Rookie Second Team. Among his impressive statistics were 316 assists, tops among rookies for the season.
In the follow-up to his rookie season in 1992-93, Brandon turned in another solid campaign and once again played in every game. At this point he was still sitting on the bench more often than not due to Price’s continuing presence. Brandon started at point guard in eight games that season, and led the team in assists in 15 games. His points-per-game average improved slightly to 8.8, and he produced over 20 points in three separate games. He also dramatically improved his three-point shot percentage from a woeful .043 (one of 23) as a rookie to .310 (13 of 42). Brandon’s solid three-point shooting and highly accurate free-throw percentage (.825) made him somewhat similar to Price.
After missing the first nine games of the season and all of training camp due to suffering from mononucleosis in 1993-94, Brandon still managed to play in 73 games that year. He logged up ten starting assignments at guard, and led the team in scoring five times during the season en route to an 8.3 average. His free-throw accuracy continued to climb, finishing up at thirteenth place in the NBA at .858.
Brandon really proved his capability as a front-line player to the Cavaliers during the 1994-95 season, when an injury to Price put him in the starting five for 36 games. His high point was a 31-point effort against the Orlando Magic in February, when he shot an impressive 12 of 15 from the field. During Price’s absence, the starting Brandon averaged a solid 17 points and seven assists per game and started in 41 games. His extra playing time helped him lift up his scoring average to 13.3 points, ranking him third on the Cavaliers. Brandon’s season ended on a sour note when he missed the last ten games of regular play and the playoff series against the New York Knicks after sustaining a stress fracture of the right tibia in a game against the Boston Celtics in April. Surgery to place a rod in his tibia was performed soon after the injury occurred.
After four seasons stuck in a substitute’s role, Brandon became a starter for good in the fall of 1995 when Price was traded to the Washington Bullets. He capitalized on the opportunity by having his breakthrough season. One of the major highlights was his being named an NBA Player-of-the-Week in December, when he averaged 23.0 points and 8.8 assists per game in a seven-day span, while sinking all 19 of his free-throw attempts. After having entered the season with a career scoring average of 9.3 points per game, Brandon finished the year by leading the Cavaliers in per-game scoring (19.3 points), assists (6.5), and steals (1.76), as well as free-throw percentage (.887). During a one-month stretch, he sank 67 consecutive free throws, the second-longest such streak in Cavaliers’ history. His new credentials earned him a spot as a reserve on the 1996 NBA All-Star Game, during which he was the top scorer off the bench with 11 points in 20 minutes of court time. Brandon was only the eighth player under six-feet tall in NBA history to be named an All-Star.
In the 1996-97 season, Brandon solidified his reputation as one of the best point guards in the NBA. He received another NBA Player of the Week honor in December of that season, during a stretch that included a career-high 33 points against the Utah Jazz. He appeared in his second straight NBA All-Star Game in 1997 and led the Cavaliers in scoring again with a career-high 19.5 points per game and a free-throw percentage of .902, second highest in the NBA. Brandon also set personal career highs in games of 30 or more points scored, racking up nine during the season, and in total steals with 138. His season was capped by receiving the 1996-97 NBA Sportsmanship Award, an award created to honor the player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.
Brandon’s interests outside of basketball include a commercial complex he bought in northeast Portland that houses a sportswear store, a barbershop, and the headquarters of his Brandon’s Tee Bee Enterprises. The barbershop was the fulfillment of a promise to a boyhood friend who used to cut hair in people’s homes. Brandon had promised the friend that he would open a barbershop for him someday, and was true to his word.
In 1995 the Cavaliers gave Brandon a seven-million dollar balloon payment to extend his modest, by NBA standards, seven-year contract worth $6.9 million. Although he is underpaid by NBA standards for a player of his quality, the heralded point guard seems little interested in pursuing the big money. He has relegated a good portion of his salary to try and reclaim his old neighborhood in a run-down area of Portland. “People think I’m going to use my money to buy cars,” he told Sports Illustrated “But I’d rather give it to my church, to my family, do something I can be proud of.”
On September 25, 1997, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Terrell Brandon along with Tyrone Hill to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Cavaliers received All-Star Shawn Kemp from Seattle, while the Bucks sent All-Star Vin Baker and Sherman Douglas to Cleveland.
Atlanta Journal Constitution, June 27, 1991, p. F8.
Basketball Digest, May 1996, p. 76.
Sport, March 1997, pp. 26-29; June 1996, p. 45.
Sports Illustrated, February 10, 1997, pp. 22-27.
Further information for this profile was obtained from publicity materials from the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as the website of the National Basketball Association on the Internet, http://www.nba.com.
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