More than two decades since his retirement from Philippine basketball, Ricardo “Ricky” Brown visited the country recently to reconnect with old friends, colleagues, and fans. He went on a series of meet-and-greet sessions at different Robinsons malls, to touch base with the supporters who have missed the basketball star also known as the Quick Brown Fox.
Another highlight of Brown’s nine-day visit was a meeting with Lance Gokongwei, president and chief operating officer of Universal Robina Corporation (URC), and son of former Great Taste Coffee Makers team owner John Gokongwei, Jr. Over lunch, the two recalled the basketball star’s legendary career in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Brown had nothing but good things to say about his former team, the Great Taste Coffee Makers. “We were a young group of talented players who shared a common goal: to become champions,” he shared. Achieving this did not happen overnight, as the team hit many bumps and bruises along the way. With the Quick Brown Fox leading the way, however, Great Taste won four straight titles in 1984 and 1985.
“It was all because of our wonderful chemistry—the players, coaches, Mr. (Ignacio) Gotao, our manager, and Mr. (John) Gokongwei, our team owner. Great Taste will always be very special in my heart,” said Brown.
The first Filipino-American to play in the PBA, Brown joined the Great Taste Coffee Makers in 1983 and was named the Rookie of the Year by the end of the season. He also received the Most Valuable Player award in 1985, and still holds the PBA records for locals in career scoring average (23.1) and free throw percentage (.876). Brown was hailed as one of the 25 Greatest Players in PBA history in 2000 and was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2009. He formally received these awards during his brief visit, as health problems kept him from coming over to accept them earlier. “It’s the ultimate honor to be recognized. It’s very humbling and I’m extremely thankful,” he said.
Now based in the US with his wife and two sons, Brown is working as the principal of the Ross Middle School in Artesia, California. Stressing the importance of education, he advised today’s crop of basketball players to work hard both on and off the court. “Be prepared for life after basketball and make sure to get your college degree. This will be very viable for you for the rest of your life,” he said. For Brown, Filipino basketball fans are integral to an athlete’s career. “Embrace them at every opportunity because there will be a day when you’re no longer a player and you wouldn’t have that anymore. Always be grateful for their support,” he advised.