Brown, 26, has plenty of familiarity with North Texas because he’s a former SMU basketball star and became a vital part of the program during his four-year career. He joined the Mavericks over the summer after spending the previous four years in Milwaukee and Houston. He is also a member of the newly implemented social justice coalition, led by Cadogan.
The timing of The HUDDLE conversation between Brown and Cadogan is significant because it launched nearly four years to the date when Brown was unlawfully arrested in Milwaukee and became another victim of police brutality.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 26, 2018, the high-profile incident occurred when Brown was thrown to the ground and tased by police officers over a parking spot. The story garnered international attention because of the excessive forced used against Brown.
Brown, who said he feared for his life, eventually filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and its police department and ultimately walked away with a settlement.
However, it’s important to note that the lawsuit spanned nearly four years and the trauma still lingers for Brown. He said it’ll always be there, but he wants to make something positive out of the situation. He believes goodness still exists in the world.
“Growing up, I saw a lot of people in the community were involved and had a positive impact — like throwing camps and doing different things for kids,” Brown said. “That’s really where my passion comes from.
“When my incident in Milwaukee happened, I could really do it two ways. I could just let it die down and get my name out of the media, or I could pursue it and try to make a positive thing happen from it. So that’s what I decided to do. I decided to pursue the case, and four years later we came out on top.”
Current Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was Brown’s head coach in Milwaukee at the start of the 2017-18 season. So that connection with his former coach and returning to Dallas has allowed a bit of his past to merge into his future.
The conversation between Brown and Cadogan was both transparent and vulnerable. They discussed a wide range of topics involving the Milwaukee incident and how to create positive relationships moving forward.
Brown said education and understanding the rights of citizens are critical.
“Especially dealing with my case in Milwaukee,” Brown said. “I had to educate myself. I had to educate myself on the system (and) how it’s set up in the city of Milwaukee.
“Different cities have different ways of getting things done. They have different tiers to get laws passed or to get things amended.”
Later, Brown and Cadogan discussed more proactive steps to bridge the divide. The entire interview is worth a listen.
Cadogan opened The HUDDLE, noting that Brown is “one of my 15 bosses” on the board with the Social Justice Coalition.
The National Basketball Social Justice Coalition was formed after an unarmed black man – Jacob Blake – was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 23, 2020. Brown and other NBA players seriously considered ending the season prematurely. Instead, they worked with owners to use arenas as voting locations, and they also offered a strong push for police reform.
The shooting of Blake happened precisely 90 days after the murder of George Floyd, and Brown, along with his Bucks teammates, staged a walkout ahead of Game 5 against the Orlando Magic in the NBA bubble.
Other teams like the Dallas Mavericks soon joined. Brown initially first read the team’s statement on why they chose to protest in the wake of Blake’s shooting.
“It was extremely important just to support each other, support my teammates and even take a stand for something bigger than us,” Brown told Mavs.com in an earlier story this year. “We put the world on notice.
“We turned a lot of heads and made a lot of noise. We tried to do what we could do to make a difference and help somebody – help a family get justice, and just dissect the whole situation to where it’s fair. It was extremely important for us to do it that way.”
Later, the Mavs boycotted Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Back in Dallas, the organization pledged seven days of Mavs Take ACTION! to combat racial injustices around the country and bring attention to, lead change and invest in organizations fighting racial disparities and inequities in North Texas.
The HUDDLE series was spawned from there as a vehicle to discuss race and systemic inequities in disadvantaged communities openly.
In the end, American Airlines Center became one of 23 NBA arenas used as a place where folks could go vote during the 2020 presidential election.
Last April, the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition announced Cadogan was its first executive director.
Cadogan is responsible for developing public education platforms and initiatives, identifying opportunities for policy reform and implementing practical advocacy efforts.
“I know people are passionate about social justice,” Cadogan explained to Brown at the beginning of The Huddle. “And (many) people want to make their voices heard, but you’ve done that and you are doing that.
“I think your perspective is going to help not just Mavs fans, but people across the country, learn how they can get on that same learning journey.”
Brown understands the weight of the platform he carries. Over the years, he’s used his personal incident to empower people of color in the fight against racism and injustices that continue in pockets of communities all around the country.
One of his suggestions was to use the game of basketball to leverage a connection between city leaders, police and the community. The idea is similar to the Mavs’ partnership with the Police Athletic League (PAL).
The Mavericks teamed up with PAL for the fifth straight time earlier this year. The event’s goal is to build bridges between children and law enforcement officials through the love of basketball. There’s a heavy emphasis on leadership development and self-esteem building, utilizing sports to create common interests.
“So (we’re) just trying to bridge the gap,” Brown said. “But really, you have to go back and see what you can do to help your community. There are different organizations already doing things in the community. They are already tied in and live it on a day-to-day basis. So they have a better direction for you.
“As far as bridging the gap, it’s tough. It’s not anything that can be done overnight. In my case, it took almost four years to resolve it. It’s something that we’re in for the long haul. So we just got to keep pushing towards it.”
And Brown, who will turn 27 on Feb. 10, is ready to do just that. He’s preparing to take everything he learned from the past and create a better future for others — one step at a time.
“It was a long journey, it was a long fight (in Milwaukee), but we stayed strong,” Brown said. “I didn’t give in to the pressure of the dollar amounts they tried to throw.
“That’s what it’s going to take for people to stay dedicated. My attorney and his team were committed to it and saw it through with me.”
To watch the entire 20-minute conversation between James Cadogan and Sterling Brown, visit here. Fans can also download a Social Justice Resource Guide. For more information on Black History Month with the Dallas Mavericks, you can visit Mavs.com/BlackHistory or Mavs.com/BHM2022.