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Happy Birthday to former Utah Jazz bigman Mike Brown

Happy Birthday to youuu!

Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

Today is a very special day, it's the birthday to one of our most iconic Utah Jazz players. So join me in wishing Mike Brown a very Happy Birthday! Today Brown turns 53, and I'm so happy I get to write about one of my all-time favs! Brown was a 3rd round pick in the 1985 NBA Draft, and despite being a 3rd round pick, he's 20th out of 162 players from that draft class in total career NBA Rebounds, behind some luminaries like Karl Malone, Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing, A.C. Green, Detlef Schrempf, Hot Rod Williams, Xavier McDaniel, Wayman Tisdale, Chris Mullin, and so on. That's not bad for a class that had so many stars in it, including multiple Hall of Famers. So Brown came into the NBA during a talent rich time, and his physical play and grit allowed him to find a place at the table.

Sure, in College he was a big deal at George Washington where he played for four years and finished with career averages of 17.3 ppg and 10.5 rpg -- but his real talents would shine under the brighter lights of the NBA. He did bounce around a bit. The draft pick that would turn out to be used on him was owned by the Los Angeles Lakers, but traded to the Chicago Bull. He would play two seasons in the Windy City before being snatched up by the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA Expansion draft. Almost immediately he was traded to Utah, with sharpshooter Kelly Tripucka being sent to the Queen City.

With the Utah Jazz he was part of a very formidable front-line that featured Mark Eaton, Thurl Bailey, and Karl Malone. Jerry Sloan still found lots to love about the Brown Bear, and Mike would come in at PF or C and throw his body around. He would play five seasons in Utah (394 regular season games, 37 playoff games), and averaged over 18 minutes of action a night. In his time on the court he was pure terror for teams that were afraid of contact. Bear would maul his way to career Jazz averages of 5.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and a very impressive 2.4 free throw attempts per game (where he shot 71.5 FT%). Yes, he also blocked shots and didn't turn the ball over much. He was a great bench player and an exceptional rebounder (nearly a double-double PER 36). During the 1991-1992 season he was 10th best in the entire NBA in Offensive Rebound percentage.

That Jazz team would win 55 games and make it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Brown was essential to the physical play style that Coach Sloan demanded, and made sure that even when Karl Malone was on the bench the other team would still get beat up on both sides of the floor.

Mike Brown was traded for Felton Spencer, with the hopes that Spencer would help the Jazz take the next step -- and replace the retiring Mark Eaton. But injuries prevented that from happening. Brown would finish his career playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Phoenix Suns.

He's always going to be important to me because as an international Utah Jazz fan growing up in the 80s and 90s there were very little opportunities to get Jazz stuff. An old Mike Brown basketball card found it's way to me in the country I was in, and became one of my most treasured possessions.