12 Sep 13
Roger Brown Rumors
Sunday, after 17 years of waiting, he enters the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Roger won’t be there to see it. Liver cancer took him in 1997. Arlena’s husband of 61 years, Azariah, won’t either. Heart failure, two years back. But Arlena? The woman with the beaming smile and boundless memories and undying affection for the man whose hoops career she and her husband resurrected in their cozy, white home on Shoop Ave.? She’ll be there. So excited, she started packing two weeks early, laying out each of her outfits on his old bed. “If the Lord lets me live,” she promises, “that will be one thing I’m going to attend.”
Arlena can still recall the elation in his voice the day he called to tell her the Indiana Pacers, a new team in a new league, had made him the franchise’s first player. “From there,” she says, “it was just history.” He averaged 17.6 points a game over an eight-year career and led the Pacers to three titles, winning playoff MVP honors in 1970. His name was later cleared in the gambling scandal, but he refused entry into the NBA near the end of his career. He retired in 1975 among the best in ABA history. “The Pacers were the class of the league, and Roger was the class of the class,” Julius Erving said in Green’s documentary. “He would have been known as one of the greatest players of all-time, but he never got that chance,” longtime NBA executive Donnie Walsh added. “The greatest Pacer ever,” Reggie Miller said.