Brown: Because in the world's consciousness, who are the most influential black men in America? Athletes. Look at all those polls and see whose name is at the top: Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Tiger Woods.
SI: Who is the greatest leader of the black community today?
Brown: C'mon. There's no black leader anymore.
SI: There's no Martin Luther King?
Brown: Martin Luther King was a misguided leader. He worked to be recognized as the leader of black America when what black America needs isn't a leader, it is education. Giving speeches and marching, that's not the concept that brings about real freedom, equality and justice. We need a philosophy that is adopted in every household that raising our children to be responsible for their own actions is a must. I don't see the [so-called] leaders of the Jewish community; I don't see the leaders of the Korean community. Their strength is in local leaders, household leaders.
SI: You mention the Jewish and Korean communities in America. Neither of those groups is highly represented in professional sports. Do you think that's connected to the value they place on education?
Brown: Absolutely. Black kids in this country—because of all the emphasis that is placed on athletics in their community-believe that is their way out. It makes education less important. There's no question athletics and the belief that they're the only ticket [to success] has hurt black America.
SI: That is ironic coming from you since you got your education because of athletics.
Brown: Yes, but most kids today don't see that. They see the millions [of dollars], and they don't understand that too great an emphasis in their community is being put on a dream that will never develop a people. And even for those few who do make it, they serve at the pleasure of the owners. They never have control.
SI: What's your opinion of the high school players who are going straight to the NBA?