July 31, 2017

Batten's Malcolm Brogdon, NBA Rookie of the Year, is Known as "The President" of the League to Some

This story is reprinted with permission of The Washington Times.

By Matthew Paras, The Washington Times

Former University of Virginia basketball star Malcolm Brogdon isn’t sure how “The President” nickname got started. Maybe last year in the NBA’s Summer League. But it stuck after fellow Milwaukee Bucks rookie Thon Maker got wind of it.

“At that point, President Obama was our president, and Thon drew a lot of parallels between me and former President Obama,” Brogdon said. “The way we talked. The way we looked. Just the ways we conducted ourselves. It was the best compliment you could get.”

(Brogdon is a 2016 graduate of the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.)

Drafted with the 36th overall pick in the second round, “The President” surprised a lot of NBA experts with an electric rookie season with the Bucks, earning the league’s Rookie of the Year award and playing a key contributing role on an unexpected playoff team.

The 24-year-old guard is in D.C. this weekend to promote the NBA Dew 3X tournament, which runs Saturday and Sunday at the park across from the Navy-Yard Metro station. The tournament will feature 32 teams — 24 men’s and eight women’s — of 3-on-3 basketball, competing for a $2,000 prize and the chance to advance to the Los Angeles finals for $20,000.

Brogdon was a Cavalier for four years and helped Virginia make the NCAA tournament each season. In February, the school retired Brogdon’s number.

Still, the jump to the NBA was vast — Brogdon said the most surprising element was the length of the season. He said he’s working on his conditioning this summer specifically for that reason.

With the Bucks, Brogdon carved out a role as a 3-and-D backup point guard, averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 assists per game in 26.4 minutes. He also shot 40 percent from deep.

“I landed in a great spot,” Brogdon said. “I think that’s really the key. A lot of the credit to coach (Jason) Kidd and the front office and my team. … My teammates allowed me to transition into the NBA game. They made it a lot smoother for me.”

As for the concept of 3-on-3 basketball, Brogdon said he enjoys it and played a lot of it growing up. The niche game has seen a spike in interest with the popularity of 3-on-3 games, from Ice Cube’s Big 3 league to the International Olympic Committee adding it as a separate sport for the 2020 games.

The IOC is still fleshing out how to qualify for the 3-on-3 teams, but it’s unlikely to feature NBA pros for 2020. Still, they haven’t ruled NBA players out in the future and Brogdon said he would be open to playing for Team USA, if he ever got the chance.

“I wouldn’t close the door to it,” he said.

For now, Brogdon will focus on the Bucks — and that includes tuning out the trade rumors featuring his name.

The Bucks have been mentioned as a possible destination for Cleveland Cavaliers superstar Kyrie Irving, and Brogdon’s name has been attached to potential deals.

“With this stuff, you’re going to hear about it,” Brogdon said. “Trades, people coming or leaving your team, you’re going to hear about it. But at the same time, you’ve got to block this stuff out. I’m not a guy that goes and reads articles and is searching for information, searching to keep up.

“During the summer, I get in my zone and work as hard as I can, so that when someone is traded, or I’m traded and shakes up my situation, that I’m ready for it and my skills speak for me.”