John Brown joins MU basketball legends in Mizzou Arena rafters

The 1971-1973 Missouri forward had an illustrious basketball career and finally saw his No. 50 retired on Saturday.
Alumnus and former Olympian John Brown takes to mid-court at halftime of the Missouri vs. Ole Miss men's basketball game on Saturday, March 9 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. Brown's No. 50 was hung in the rafters at halftime.

On a list of athletic accomplishments that includes meeting President Richard Nixon and making Olympic teams, John Brown was confident that seeing his jersey hang in the rafters at Mizzou Arena was one of the crowning moments of his life to this point.

“It is, from an athletic standpoint, it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Brown said.

Brown joined the likes of Derrick Chievous, who had his No. 3 retired in February 2019, and seven other MU legends by having his No. 50 retired Saturday. The list also includes Brown’s coach and former Missouri player, Norm Stewart.

"John Brown was one of the most significant student-athletes of the Norm Stewart-era,” MU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk said in a press release earlier this month.

While a white jersey with Brown’s No. 50 was revealed in the rafters, the former MU forward was gifted a gold jersey like the one he wore when Hearnes Center first opened in 1972.

Brown played for Missouri from 1971-1973, recording 37 career double-doubles. He finished his time at Missouri with 1,421 career points and 720 rebounds. The forward still holds the highest total career scoring average in MU history at 19.7 points per game.

In the 1971-1972 season, Brown led the Tigers to a 21-6 record with a 10-4 finish in the Big Eight. He had 17 double-doubles and averaged 21.7 PPG as well as 10.5 rebounds.

Brown led MU again in his final season wearing black and gold, averaging 21.0 PPG and 10.0 rebounds. On Feb. 27, 1973, Brown posted one of four 20-point and 20-rebound games in MU history against Kansas.

“If you’re a Missouri person, you remember the Big Eight. Everyone loves to beat Kansas,” Brown said.

The then-senior also posted his career-high point total less than a week later when he scored 41 against Oklahoma State. That number remains the ninth-highest single game point total in MU history.

Brown also recorded 30-point performances on eight different occasions throughout his three seasons as a Tiger.

As a senior, Brown was named a 1973 All-American. He was named first-team All-Big Eight after both his junior and senior seasons.

Chosen as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team in 1972, Brown went to the Atlanta Hawks as the 10th pick in the 1973 NBA draft. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team with an average 9.3 PPG and 5.7 rebounds in the 1973-1974 season.

A group of around 100 was in attendance at Mizzou Arena to support Brown on Saturday, including family members, friends and fellow former players.

“It’s been an opportunity to bring all my old teammates together,” Brown said. “We’ve got guys from my high school state championship team here. My ‘72 college teammates. A bunch of guys I played with after pro basketball. Just to have all those guys together in one place and visiting and telling old stories, it’s been a phenomenal day or two.”

Edited by Adam Cole |

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