Many moons ago, C.M. Brown Sr. gave his son advice that would change the course of Philadelphia basketball for nearly four decades.
" 'Teaching experience is going to be one of the most rewarding experiences that you will ever have,' " longtime Engineering and Science basketball coach C.M. Brown Jr. recalled hearing from his late father, who died in 1991. "And his words hold true."
Brown, who led E&S for 36 years and has the fifth-most wins (438-325) in Public League history, has stepped down as the school's basketball coach.
But he will still be on a sideline this season. Arcadia head coach Justin Scott, who played for Brown at E&S from 1999-2002, finally got his former coach to join his coaching staff.
"He's been on me for a while," Brown joked about Scott. "I'm so appreciative that he did. Now I'm learning from him, and I'm so happy to be doing that."
Scott, who played at Bloomsburg and East Stroudsburg, is in his sixth season as the Knights coach.
"Coach Brown has been a major influence on me as a player and a young man," Scott said. "He has taught me so much about the game of basketball but more importantly about life. I have no doubt in my mind that he will impact our players in the same manner. I look forward to continuing to work with and learn from him."
Former Freire coach John Brown (no relation) will take over for the Engineers, who have only known one coach.
Asked what advice he might have for the new coach, C.M. Brown Jr. laughed and then used his answer about what he's learned most about himself during his tenure.
"Perseverance," he said. "Just hang in there. It's a great program. Those kids will remember him. They'll all come back to say hello."
Brown said he had a lot of memories.
Among the standouts, Brown said, are the team's PIAA seeding-game upset of Prep Charter and the Morris twins during the 2005-2006 season, Lynn Greer II leading the Engineers to a triple-overtime win against Overbrook in the '95-'96 campaign, and a memory that illustrates what truly mattered to Brown as a coach.
Maurice Slaughter was an end-of-the-rotation player during the '05-'06 season who worked hard and was happy to be on the team. Near the end of that season, with the team's playoff position already locked, Brown told his seniors in the locker room that they would start just before one of their final games.
"His eyes got as big as lemons," Brown said. "And they stayed that way."
That is until after the opening tip when a steal led to Slaughter breaking free all alone.
"He scored the first points of the game," Brown said. "That's something he'll never forget for the rest of his life. He will always have that memory."
Thanks to Brown, who retired as a teacher in 2011, countless others also have fond memories on and off the court.