If you’re a child of the 90s when you hear the phrase “He’s on fire!” your thoughts immediately turn into a 16-bit versions of reality. That’s because the phrase was made popular by the genre defining video game NBA Jam. On Wednesday night in Charlotte, Suns shooting guard Shannon Brown made it popular again.
In the 4th quarter, with his team clinging to an 85-81 lead after being ahead by double-digits, Brown decided to get hotter than a Suns Dancers swimsuit calendar shoot (which just happened to occur on Wednesday as well). The swingman entered the final quarter with a relatively quiet 9 points. That didn’t last for long.
Roughly four minutes into the quarter Brown hit a 3-pointer to expand his team’s lead to 94-89. He and the team never looked back. He would hit five more threes to give him 24 points in the game and the Suns won 117-110.
Brown could tell almost immediately that he was going to have a bigger quarter than Apple does in the stock market after announcing a new iPhone.
“After I hit the first one it was like ‘let me try this again.’ Then I hit the second one and after that it’s just about taking good shots in rhythm,” Brown reminisced.. “You don’t want to break that rhythm that’s going on.”
It wasn’t luck though. It was the culmination of preparation and hard work that Brown puts in on the practice court every day.
“I work on those shots,” he said. “It wasn’t like they were prayers. I actually work on them. It was about taking good shots, in good rhythm and hitting them.”
What also wasn’t luck was Coach Alvin Gentry turning to Brown off the bench in the final quarter and allowing him to stay in the game and in rhythm.
“I don’t know if you see anything,” Gentry said about whether he knew Brown would have a hot shooting night. “I think it’s a situation where he really wants the ball. He makes the first one, the second one, the third one and then you feel pretty good about it. You make sure he has the ball in his hand.”
Brown certainly noticed his coach’s faith and his teammates belief in his ability to drain shots from anywhere beyond the arc in the quarter. He appreciated it too.
“My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and coach did a great of running some places where I could get my shot off,” he said.
There were a few other reason, apart from his brilliant shooting and his team getting the victory, that made the night even sweeter for the 6-4 guard. First off, he did it in front of his wife Monica who doesn’t always get to attend games (and who coach Gentry joked is now required to go to all the road games). The second reason was a little more spiteful. See, Brown is a former Bobcat and it was one of the first times he got to exact revenge on a franchise who let him go.
“That was the first time I felt like I played well in that arena since leaving them,” he said. “All it is about is as I get older I get more mature as a person and a basketball player and it showed last night.”
But did Wednesday night’s personal 3-point shooting contest by Downtown Brown show he’s deserving of a spot in February’s league-wide long ball competition? His coach wouldn’t commit to it, but thinks it could happen.
“If he keeps shooting like he’ll definitely have a chance to do it,” Gentry said.
Brown said in the past, fans have wanted him to compete in All-Star Saturday Night’s Dunk Contest but that he isn’t focused on that. He did admit though that if anyone had challenged him to a contest on Wednesday night he wouldn’t have lost.
“Last night? Nah, I would have put my money on me.”
And for good reason. He was ‘on fire’ and the only thing that was missing from his performance was the NBA Jam theme music and a rim which had the charred remnants of a net that had once hung there.