BRAND NEW HEAVY
MEET THE WALL
Saturday night. Dec. 30. Up on Jonathan Hood's radio show in Chicago, I did a foul thing. Ralphie on The Sopranos foul. When asked about Elton Brand and if I thought he'd make the All-Star team, not only did I say no, I said, "I don't think he deserves to."

Elton heard. He'd just had 12 points in a loss to the Knicks, had already had back-to-back 8-point games and missed a few games with a knee injury. Plus, Ron Mercer looked like he was about to claim "I'm the Man" status inside the United Center. Elton, meet the muthafuckin' Wall. The Sophomore Slump had hit the League's most underrated 4 hard like Project Pat lyrics, and his co-ROY Steve Francis was ballin' in Texas. Comments justified.

The very next game E dropped 31 and snatched 16 on the Nets. Called me on the cellie. Left a message. Said he needed to talk to me. I never called him back.

MOMMA AIN'T RAISE NO PUNK
There's an e-mail that has haunted Elton Brand and won't go away. He's never admitted to it, not until now. Chillin' in his modest downtown apartment with teammates Ron Artest and Corey Benjamin, watching Duke ball UNC, Elton confessesā€¹but only because I asked. "So E," I say without Corey or Ron hearing. "Did you really write that e-mail back to that white girl when you were at Duke?"

Elton looks around, rubs on the red Coogi sweater, and spits honesty. "I'll tell you, I did."

To paraphrase the episode, some co-ed at Duke wrote Elton an e-mail degrading him for leaving school early. According to her, "no one should ever leave Duke before they graduate." She called EB some derogatory names, made racial and athletic references and basically said he didn't deserve to wear Duke blue. The reply was classic. Calm. It basically told the struggles of a particular young black man and how he "wasn't like these other brothas and athletes you see that go to this school."

"She didn't know my background," E says, making a move to the kitchen. "I ain't come from money like a Christian Laettner or a Grant Hill or even like Shane [Battier]. She didn't know my background, so for her to just go off on me...you know I had to say something."

"So when you were on Up Close with Rip Hamilton before the '99 title game and Chris Myers asked about it, you basically lied?"

"No. I was protecting myself. I knew when I sat down in Corey Maggette's room and typed that e-mail, I was doing the right thing. But it was to her, not the public. And I wasn't about to mess up my Draft chances by admitting that. Because, c'mon, you know the deal, the average [and E says this eloquently, without using the word "white"] person wouldn't have understood where I was coming from." I did.

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