Sports commentator James Brown talks about success


By Hannah Simpson

Introduced as “one of the most widely recognized commentators in the nation,” former FOX NFL Sunday co-host James Brown spoke on April 20 as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

james_brown_1.jpgBrown spoke to students, faculty and guests in the Givens Performing Arts Center (GPAC) about the fundamentals of being successful.

Brown worked with CBS for 10 years before joining FOX Sports in 1994. He has commentated for the NBA finals, the NCAA basketball tournament, Super Bowls and the 1992 and 1996 Winter Olympics. While at CBS, he was also co-host of CBS Sports Saturday/Sunday.

Currently, Brown broadcasts The James Brown Radio Show on Sporting News Radio, as well as corresponds for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Brown is a host for HBO, and the host of the nationally syndicated black talk show America’s Black Forum.

“There’s no such thing as new fundamentals,” Brown recalled his high school basketball coach telling him.

Brown said even Michael Jordan, for all his glory, still had to learn his fundamentals first. There are seven basic fundamentals that will help one achieve success, Brown said.

First and foremost are good communication skills. Brown said that many youth enjoy the use of slang, but slang will only impress close friends. It is important for people to grasp the three categories of good communication: speaking, writing and listening.

james_brown_2.jpgBrown recalled a time when he was corrected on air for not properly articulating a word.

“Now, I know that I could have reacted stereotypically and pulled out my switchblade,” Brown said, drawing laughs from the audience.

He took the lesson to heart and remembered to always use good pronunciation.

The second fundamental for success is dress and attire.
“People make a judgment based on how you look before you even open your mouth,” Brown said. “Thank goodness God looks at the heart.”

Brown described one of his first job interviews in which he dressed in a suit, vest and bowtie of different shades of blue while sporting an unkempt “afro.”

Brown said the interviewer wandered out of his office reading Brown’s resume, which boasted Harvard University, a 3.5 GPA and captain of the varsity basketball team before looking up and seeing only Brown in the room.

The interviewer asked the secretary where James Brown was. Upon identifying himself, Brown quickly received a stern lecture on the etiquette of dressing to impress.

The third fundamental is punctuality and promptness. Brown said this trait proved the characteristics of reliability and dependability.

A thirst and hunger for knowledge were fourth on the list of fundamentals.

james_brown_3.jpg“If you show (thirst and hunger for knowledge) no matter the environment…it will pay dividends in the game of life,” Brown said.

Interpersonal skills help with working effectively in a diverse environment, Brown said of the fifth fundamental. Teamwork and leadership are greatly developed when one learns interpersonal skills, Brown said.

“The ability to understand a person is key,” Brown said.

Brown said he firmly believes the shooting at Virginia Tech University would not have happened had the shooter been more loved or understood. Brown requested a moment of silence for the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings at the beginning of his speech.

Everybody will face trials and tribulations, Brown said of the sixth fundamental, which is overcoming adversity.

Brown said that many would give up and “try to pull off track.”

“Overcoming adversity will only strengthen you,” Brown said.

The last on the list, “having fun,” is one of the most important fundamentals, Brown said. Having fun is the “hallmark” for a television show.

Brown said that education should be a fun experience. The more fun, the easier the learning experience, he said.

“If you take those characteristics, root them in faith, you’ll be successful no matter what,” Brown said.

Brown was the final guest of UNCP’s 2006-07 Distinguished Speaker Series. Speakers next year include journalist Bob Woodward and actress Vanessa Williams.

For information about the series or other events at GPAC, please contact the Box Office at 910.521.6361 or email

Hannah Simpson is a first year student majoring in Mass Communications and Political Science.