Snohomish native Jon Brockman, now with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, has more than 320,000 followers on Twitter.
The legend of the Brockness Monster is spreading.
Just a year ago, Jon Brockman was a beast without a nickname. He was a prolific scorer and rebounder from Washington with a questionable NBA future. He wasn’t the prototypical power forward. Not tall enough. Not enough range on his shot. Not enough athleticism. Really, he possessed only one undisputed trait — tenacity.
How easily we forget the relevance of that characteristic.
Look at Brockman now. On determination, on hustle, on his trademark desire to get every rebound in sight, the Snohomish native has acquired greater NBA security than originally imagined. He had to be traded from Sacramento to Milwaukee to get it, but with a new three-year contract, Brockman has defied the meager expectations of a second-round draft pick. Besides $3 million, his reward is unimaginable popularity.
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The tough guy who seemingly broke his nose every other game with the Huskies now goes by a fitting new handle — the Brockness Monster. He has more than 320,000 followers on Twitter. Shaquille O’Neal has taken a liking to him, too. Sometimes, men in hard hats do become famous.
“It definitely kind of shocks me,” Brockman said. “I don’t know when it happened or why it happened, but I’ve been having fun with it. It’s pretty cool.”
Brockman went to Milwaukee last week to get acquainted with his new team. On that trip, he also attended a Brewers baseball game and heard numerous shouts of “Welcome to Milwaukee, Brockness Monster!” He has T-shirts that read “I believe in The Brockness Monster,” and his former coach, Lorenzo Romar, even donned one last season.
Still, the 6-foot-7, 255-pound forward laughs at the attention. He didn’t realize that on-court relentlessness, a little personality and averages of 2.8 points and 4.1 rebounds could go so far. Brockman isn’t satisfied being a bench-warming fan favorite. Simply being in Sacramento’s rotation made his rookie season a success. Now, he hopes to play an essential role on a team that made the playoffs last season.
He trains at his alma mater, Snohomish High School, daily. He’s improving his jump shot, his quickness, his strength. He’s about to play for a hard-nosed coach, Scott Skiles, who should appreciate Brockman’s skill set. He won’t take this opportunity for granted.
“I think being slighted is what’s motivated me at every level,” Brockman said. “In high school, I was taller than most everybody, but people wondered if my skills would translate to college. And all through college it was the same thing about whether I could play in the NBA. I’m not saying I’m a dominant force on the floor at all, but I play the same way. The energy I bring, my rebounding, there’s a spot for that in any league, any level, anywhere.”
That’s a message Brockman plans to emphasize during his upcoming basketball camp. The inaugural Jon Brockman Basketball Camp, which is for boys and girls ages 6 to 16, is Aug. 10-13 at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish.
It’s another unexpected perk of fame for a player with a construction worker’s mentality. But Brockman is an ideal hoops camp host. His approach should be mimicked.
“I’ve made a lot of improvements,” Brockman said of his game. “I keep on stretching out the range. It’s coming along. But my jump shot is not what got me where I’m at. I need to get better at all phases, but rebounding and defense and energy is what I’m going to stick with.”
And he’ll keep the nickname, too. Sacramento Kings color analyst Jerry Reynolds came up with Brockness Monster. From there, it gained local popularity, but Shaq deserves credit for its explosion. He complimented the Brockness Monster — the player and the moniker — in a tweet to his 3 million followers. Then, the clock started on Brockman’s NBA fame.
Later in the season, O’Neal ran into Brockman when the Kings visited Cleveland and howled, “Well, if it isn’t the Brockness Monster!”
It’s easy to see Brockman is comfortable in the NBA. He belongs. He has earned it. He battled through a sprained MCL in his right knee as a rookie and missed five weeks, but he still made an impression. He ranked 17th in the league last season in rebounds per 48 minutes (15.6), just ahead of Tim Duncan. It was the second-best rebounding production of any NBA rookie.
Fittingly, this new contract means Brockman now has a deal that rivals a late first-round pick’s guarantee. He has worked his way back to where he should be. And it figures to be merely the start of a long career as an energy guy off the bench.
“One thing I’ve noticed about the NBA is every guy has a specialty,” Brockman said. “I know what mine is. I’m going to keep going to it.”
Yep, the Brockness Monster is real. Believe that.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer