Reporting from East Rutherford, N.J. — Bobby Brown could hear his mother in the background when he called to tell his family the news.
"Oh my God!" Regina Brown said excitedly. "My baby's coming home!"
Nearly three years after leaving Los Angeles to embark on a professional basketball career that has made stops in Berlin and three NBA cities, the point guard is returning to Southern California with the Clippers. The former Westchester High and Cal State Fullerton standout hopes he's home for good.
"My dad's happy, my girlfriend," Brown said today, a day after the Clippers acquired him from the New Orleans Hornets for a conditional draft choice. "It's going to be like a reunion when I go home."
The Clippers obtained Brown to help fill the void created when backup guard Sebastian Telfair suffered a groin injury that was expected to sideline him for at least another month. Brown averaged 6.6 points and 14.9 minutes in 22 games this season with the Hornets, but his playing time was reduced dramatically this month.
"I was basically coming in as the third point guard, battling every day in practice," said Brown, who was behind Chris Paul and Darren Collison in the Hornets' rotation.
With the Clippers, the 6-foot-2 Brown is expected to help contain small, quick guards.
"Our thoughts and hopes are that he can guard those types of players," Coach Mike Dunleavy said.
Brown spent part of the morning shoot-around learning his new team's offensive sets and could play tonight against New Jersey, Dunleavy said. When he enters his first game, Brown says, he wants to "just bring energy off the bench, get guys involved and be a team player, making everybody happy when I get on the court."
Even though he went undrafted out of Cal State Fullerton, where he was the Titans' all-time leading scorer, Brown said he never lost hope that he would play in the NBA. His journey initially took him overseas to Alba Berlin of the German League, where Brown helped his team win the league title.
Brown then impressed NBA scouts while playing with New Orleans' summer-league team and signed a free-agent contract with Sacramento. He also played with Minnesota before joining the Hornets before this season.
Asked if being ignored by NBA teams out of college caused him to play with a chip on his shoulder, Brown said: "I try play with a chip on my shoulder everywhere -- open gym, practice, games. But mainly, when I came home, I was like, 'This is what I want to do. I want to play in the NBA and be home with my family in the States.' I knew that I had to play my butt off to show that I belonged here."
Brown said he had improved significantly since his college days. He better understands how to execute the pick and roll, stay aggressive and utilize his quickness. "I just started to put that all into one" package, he said.
Brown likes everything about his new team; he doesn't even mind that Clippers teammate Craig Smith went to rival Fairfax High.
"I played with him in Minnesota, so we had our battles back and forth about Westchester and Fairfax," Brown said. "We'll continue it here."
Earlier this month, Westchester routed Fairfax by 33 points when the teams played. Brown said he wouldn't let Smith forget that game.
"I'm going to get on him about it," Brown said, smiling.