Terrell Brandon called me on Tuesday night. He was on his way home from the Barbershop he owns in Portland, OR. I had gotten a message into him earlier that day. The call came back from an unknown number. I offered a 'who is this?' in response. I may have sounded rattled by the unidentified contact.
'Terrell Brandon, oh hey, what's up man, thanks for calling me back'.
From there I stepped into the Wine and Gold DeLorean. Brandon dove. Or maybe it was the Powder Blue and Black version. Whatever the case, for the next half-hour I traveled back through Cavaliers' history with Terrell Brandon as my tour guide.
His answers were honest, his recollections vivid. The passion he still has for Cleveland and its Cavaliers jumped through the phone with every story he told.
The details from our conversation will be featured in Cavs Zine 3.
I told Mr. Brandon this; describing briefly the Cavaliers Fan Magazine I was referencing. He said he was thrilled to be a part of it, and really appreciated the Cavs fans remembering and celebrating his career this way. It honestly meant something to him.
I'd come to find out that is probably because Terrell Brandon never wanted to leave Cleveland in the first place. He said he dreamed of playing 15 years as a member of the Cavaliers. He was devastated when he left. He loved the city, loved the fans, and had a personal relationship with everyone in the organization - from his teammates to the workers who filled Gund Arena.
Despite that, in late September, 1997, Terrell Brandon would be forced to leave. He had spent his NBA career to that point a Cavalier, after being drafted 11th overall in 1991 from Oregon. Along with Brandon, the Cavs also sent Tyrone Hill and a 1998 1st round pick (top-10 protected) to the Milwaukee Bucks. They traded Vin Baker to Seattle, and the Supersonics dealt Shawn Kemp to Cleveland.
In an early October article discussing the trade, Sports Illustrated's Jackie MacMullen included the following line: "Embry is optimistic about how Kemp will fit in with the Cavs. "Actually, we look at it as a fresh start," Embry says. "I don't anticipate any problems with Shawn."'
The magnitude with which that prediction was wrong is something that will forever live in Cavaliers history. Mark Price we always remember too. But there was greatness in between those two moments. Terrell Brandon, for a time, was arguably the best at his position in all the NBA. The only other Cavalier you could ever say that about is LeBron James.
Zydrunas was never better than Shaq, Price wasn't better than Isiah, Daugherty wasn't better than Ewing, and on it goes.
Terrell Brandon did tell me that he still receives mail from Cleveland fans on a regular basis. He hasn't been forgotten by those who truly understand his impact. They remember that NBA All Star Game HE hosted in CLEVELAND, OHIO.
They remember the NBA universe surrounding the player featured on Sports Illustrated's cover in the weeks leading up to All Star Weekend. They remember how proud he was to serve as Ambassador for Cleveland that weekend, on a stage this city may never see again.
We will remember all of that about Terrell Brandon in Cavs Zine 3, and much more. I haven't even mentioned one tenth of our conversation. It was a discussion I was thrilled to be a part of, and an article I hope you get a chance to read.
Terrell Brandon forever. Cavs Zine 3.