MINNEAPOLIS — Lexie Brown, in her own words, has come a long way since her teenage temper tantrums included chucking desks across the gym floor.
Allow her to explain.
“There was AP testing in the gym, so there were desks set up all over the place,” Brown said, laughing to herself, perhaps realizing how ridiculous the story sounded in hindsight. “I was working out late at night, and I got mad for some reason, and I threw a desk as hard as I could.”
Unfortunately for Brown, there were cameras, and her principal saw the footage.
“I got called into his office the next day,” Brown said. “He was like, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ He actually thought it was funny. He just wanted me to come in and watch it. I don’t do that anymore. I’ve grown out of that.”
If she hadn’t, her blossoming WNBA career might’ve ended before it got started.
While she has found a niche on the Lynx this season as a sharpshooter off the bench, it wasn’t long ago that Brown, 24, was rotting away on the Connecticut Sun bench.
Despite selecting Brown in the first round of the 2018 draft, Sun coach Curt Miller didn’t seem to have much of a plan for her. She played sparingly across 22 games, averaging a mere 5.6 minutes a game.
“He pretty much told me our first meeting that I probably wasn’t going to see the court that much,” Brown recalled. “It was kind of like, ‘Great. What am I supposed to do with this information?’
“They have been growing for a few seasons and have been through a lot together. He had his group (that) he trusted. I understood that. It was just tough because I’d never gone through it before.”
As the star of almost every team she’d been a part of, Brown wasn’t sure how to navigate the frustration of riding the pine. She would constantly remind herself that getting to the WNBA was the hardest part, and while that would keep her motivated most of the time, she could spiral out of control in a flash.
“I’ve always had that issue of being my own toughest critic,” she said. “Sometimes I would think to myself like, ‘Am I even good?’ I talked to my parents about maybe playing overseas. My confidence was completely shot. I just didn’t know what I could do to get on the court.”
As much as Brown was struggling on the inside, she put on a happy face on the outside, not wanting to ruffle any feathers as an unproven rookie.
“If I went through that experience as a mean-spirited person, I don’t think this situation would’ve worked out,” she said. “I just made sure to stay respectful and it ended up working out.”
Brown paused and smiled, recalling how the trade to the Lynx went down a few months ago. She was sitting at an Atlanta Hawks game on April 10 when her agent called.
“She told me I was about to be traded and wasn’t exactly sure where I was going yet,” Brown said. “We wanted the Lynx. We wanted them to draft me last offseason; it just didn’t work out because the pick was too low. She called back like 20 minutes later and told me it was the Lynx.
“I was so happy. They wanted me from the beginning, and the fact that they worked so hard to get me made me feel really good.”
A soon as Brown arrived in the Twin Cities, it was clear that Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve had a plan for her: She was going to rely on Brown as a spark plug of the bench, and gave her the green light to shoot whenever she was open.
“It’s been great being on a team that believes in me and believes in my game and believes in what I bring to the table,” Brown said. “That definitely helped with my confidence.”
There are moments when Brown lets her emotions get the best of her. She hangs her head a little more than she’d like to admit, and a few missed shots in a row can still make her unravel. She just isn’t throwing desks anymore.
“It’s been like that my whole life,” Brown said. “This is just the first group that hasn’t looked at it as such a negative. They like the fact that I care so much. It’s not always a bad thing. Just when it starts draining energy from the team, that’s when they have to check me on it. I’ve been really appreciative of that.”