Phoenix College (PC) alumus Ira Brown was a part of the debut Japanese 3x3 Olympic basketball team.
Originally from Corsicana, Texas, Brown started his athletic career pitching for five seasons in Minor League Baseball. He played with the Gulf Coast Royals, Spokane Indians, and three other minor league teams before launching a career in basketball that would (unbeknownst to him) take him clear to the Tokyo Olympics.
When Brown first moved to Arizona from his hometown of Corsicana, Texas in 2005, he played pickup basketball games at Phoenix College, and met a great group of players. Brown credits the decision to change sports from baseball to basketball to his time at PC, and the support he received from former Men’s Basketball coach, Matt Gordon, and his PC teammates.
Brown has a leg up on his Olympic competitors by having lived and played basketball in Japan for nearly a decade. The first team he played for was the Toyama Grouses from 2011-2014. He was then signed by the Hitachi SunRockers in 2014, played three years for them and is now playing for the Osaka Evessa.
While Brown was building his professional basketball career in Japan, he fell in love with the culture and began learning Japanese in order to take written and oral exams to officially become a citizen. After a two-year process, Brown became a Japanese citizen.
This year’s Olympics games serve as the debut for the 3x3 tournament as it was officially added to the Olympic Program in 2017.
Check out a special podcast, which was recorded by Phoenix College Men’s Head Soccer Coach, David Cameron, featuring Ira Brown.
Cover image and first image courtesy of Abigail Leonard/Only A Game from https://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2017/03/10/ira-brown-tokyo-basketball
Second image courtesy of Dan Pelle/Spokesman-Review.