Lexie Brown Brings Things Full Circle As The Face Of Reebok’s Retro Pump Omni Zone II Release

Lexie Brown is getting ready to enter her fourth season in the WNBA and her third with the Minnesota Lynx, as she keeps professional basketball as being the Brown family business. Her father, Dee, played 13 seasons in the NBA, and has his name forever etched in NBA lore for his no-look dunk in the 1991 Dunk Contest.

During that contest, he wore the iconic Reebok Pumps, and for the 30th anniversary of the event, Reebok is bringing back a mid-cut retro release of the Pump Omni Zone II on March 5. The face of the release is Lexie, who spoke with Dime this week about the full circle moment of getting to launch the same sneaker her father made famous, carrying on the family legacy while carving her own path on the court, the Wubble experience last year, and the Minnesota Lynx’s busy offseason coming off of a run to the semis last season.

When they came to you about this, and you first started discussing this with Reebok and your father, what were the conversations like and how exciting was it for you to be part of this release?

Yeah, it’s been super exciting. Unfortunately, me and my dad have not been in the same place for a few weeks now. So we haven’t really been able to share this exciting time together. But, I mean, we got so many pairs of Pumps at the house already — not in my size, obviously, but he had a bunch. So for them to rerelease it and just the way the sneaker game is, and just how excited everybody gets about a new pair of sneakers or bringing back old pair of sneakers, for him to be involved in that I’m just really happy for him. And I’m really blessed to be able to be a part of it.

Whenever you bring a retro sneaker back, it’s also about how you spin it forward. What do you think of the job Reebok’s done with with this sneaker and particularly making it something that is in line with the performance shoes today, but still paying homage to that that iconic look that your dad made so famous with that Dunk Contest?

Yeah, I think Reebok has done a really good job of making a basketball shoe, but also a lifestyle shoe. Me personally, I’ve played low top shoes, so I don’t know how many games I will be playing in the Pumps. Obviously, I will try and play in a few just because I think that would just be a really cool thing to do. But I know I will definitely be wearing them with sweats, some shorts, just being able to wear them out and about. And I think that Reebok has really altered the marketing a little bit that way as well. My dad doesn’t really wear them, you know, out about he wears them on the court sometimes. But obviously now he’s gonna think he’s, like, the coolest person on earth and wear them all the time, I already know. So it’s gonna be really cool. And I know the first time I wear them this season, I think that’s going to be like a really big deal. So I’m really excited about that moment.

I know you weren’t born yet, but I’m sure you’ve watched that ’91 Dunk Contest. How cool is it to look back and see that moment that your dad had and what was such a big moment in his career and what really became an iconic NBA moment?

Yeah I mean, for sure, that was a career-defining moment for him and for him to do it so early in his career is really amazing. I think really what that Dunk Contest, all of the guys who were participating, that kind of set the tone for the showmanship part of a Dunk Contest. You think more about entertaining everybody rather than just making, you know, difficult dunks. So I think he got the credit, obviously, when it happened. I think there was like a long period of time where it was kind of like it and then like, “ehhh.” But I think like maybe the last like five years, I think that every time All Star Weekend comes around, the Dunk Contest comes around, like people always bring up my dad’s dunk. And I think he’s finally getting his flowers for it, and I love that.

He’s judging the Dunk Contest this year as well, even though it’s a kind of a weird Dunk Contest, but he’s in there with some of the greats. So I’m really happy for him. Yeah, this whole moment, me being a part of Reebok, me being able to, you know, do a photoshoot with the Pumps on, like, this is literally a dream come true. And I know that he’s really proud that I’ve been able to work hard to get to this moment.

It is kind of a full circle thing. For you, coming up and getting to this point in your career, what have been the things that you’ve been able to talk to your dad about going through your professional career and making a name for yourself, but also, knowing that’s always going to be a part of what people think of when they when they see your name?


He’s always taught me just to embrace it. I’ve always embraced it, I remember when I was little, I would bring his trading cards to school and be like, “Oh, this my dad, this is my dad,” so I’ve always been super proud of him. And our careers are very different as far as attention, accolades. I mean, obviously, we both got to the highest level, which at the end of the day, that’s the goal. But he tells me all the time, like, you accomplished way more than I did in high school. You accomplished way more than I did in college, you know? You got a lot more attention than I ever had being a young basketball player, but I think that he always had a chip on his shoulder through his whole career and always being the underdog counted out. And I think he instilled that in me. You know, no matter what’s going on, you always got to work harder than the person next to you. Work harder than the person in front of you, especially the people behind you, because they’re working hard as well. He just taught me just to always be the hardest worker on the team, in the room, and in a situation, take advantage of opportunities. And just remember that every day is a blessing.

Speaking of opportunities, last season in the Wubble was your first opportunity to really start in the WNBA. What did you take from that experience and then as a team as a whole being able to kind of surprise some folks with with a run to the semis as a young team that I don’t think people necessarily expected that from coming in?

It was amazing, when coach Cheryl [Reeve] was like, you’re gonna start this season, I mean, I was super excited to go from my rookie season not even being able to find time to becoming a starter on, I would say, one of the better teams in the league. It was just kind of a seize the moment type situation, because the league is so competitive. From top to bottom, every team has talent. So, you really got to stay on top of your stuff, when you get into a position like that. Unfortunately, when I was in the bubble, I got a concussion, so that kind of derailed my season a little bit. I thought that we were playing really, really well as a team. And I was just kind of struggling with that the whole season. I tried to fight through it as much as I could until, you know, it just became too much.

But I think our team, you know, we battled through some adversity, I think the whole league was battling adversity being the Wubble itself. And then we just were hit with injuries throughout the entire season. But for us to be able to make it to the semis, that just shows our resiliency, our toughness, and, yeah, we’re a very young team. So we have a lot of energy, you know, things don’t get us down for very long — short attention spans [laughs]. But we made a lot of offseason moves, so I think we’ve gotten a little bit older, a little bit smarter, a little bit more entertaining. So I’m really excited for us to get together next month.

Yeah, I was going to ask, the last couple free agencies since this new CBA have been pretty wild with the player movement. As you were watching this offseason unfold with Aerial [Powers] coming in and what what you guys were able to do, what was your reaction as you saw the team being built in Minnesota?

I was kind of expecting some major moves, because last year, we didn’t really make any. I think she did that on purpose because there were a lot of players that were not free agents last year that became free agents this year. There were some surprising moves, you know, like Odyssey [Sims] being traded that was a little bit of surprise, Kiki [Herbert Harrigan] getting traded. But I trust Cheryl, I think that she’s trying to adapt to the way basketball is being played now. Spread the floor a little bit more, get a little bit more threes up. So I’m really excited. I think I’ll probably transition back to play my natural position at the one. I mean, that’s what I hope, because I think I’m a really good point guard when I have the minutes and the opportunity. And we’re gonna have a regular training camp, we have a somewhat regular season. I think everybody’s just really excited to get back to Minneapolis.

What have been the things that you’ve been able to learn from Cheryl, because she is such a legend in the coaching game, and the things that she’s been able to impart on you in your couple seasons you’ve spent with her?

For me, the thing that I always struggled with is the mental side of the sport. Just not getting too down on myself. I’m a perfectionist to a fault. I’ve been like that my whole life, and it’s been something that I’ve been working on since I’ve been young. I’ve improved so much. I still got a little bit of ways to go, but she’s really been the first coach that has, I wouldn’t say punished, but I’ve had like consequences for getting down. You know, sometimes turning into a little bit of an energy vampire, things like that. I’ve never really had anybody call me out on it the way she has. And at the beginning, I didn’t really like it, didn’t really understand, like, what the point of it was when I was doing what I was supposed to do on the court. But now I’ve gotten a little bit older. This year, I didn’t go overseas, so I’ve had a lot of time at home for self reflection, things like that, and I just finally realized that, I mean, she was right all along. I think I’m learning to appreciate that type of criticism because I know it’s because she knows what I’m capable of as a player. And if I get this mental block out of the way, then I think my game is just gonna take off.

You mentioned the difficulty of being in the bubble. What were the mental hurdles you had to you have to clear of being there, being in IMG, and that’s the only place that you’re going, to be playing games back to back in a super condensed season, and all of that? What was the experience like and how did you guys find ways to come together and just push through all that?

I mean, I think the WNBA did a great job of getting a bubble together. It was really nice, comfortable, they kept it really safe for us. But I think the hardest part was just like you didn’t really have an escape from your teammates, your coaches, other teams, other players, refs. Like, everything was in one place, and I think that part of it was amazing, but terrible at the same time. Because all we want to do is play basketball all the time and play games and be together and hang out and whatever, that’s great. But you know, there’s some days, where it’s just like, I need to go hang out with my family. I need to see people, and you didn’t have that opportunity in there. So I think after a few weeks pass, some teams are playing well, some teams are not playing so well. You know, that’s when true colors came out. True personalities came out. You got to learn things about your teammates that you probably would have never learned otherwise.

But I think our team, you know, we have a really great locker room energy. We got to go on like outings, we went to the beach, we went on, like a sunset boat ride. Cheryl and everybody in the organization, they made sure that when they felt like we were kind of breaking a little bit, they would plan something like we would go somewhere, we would have team dinner, things like that. So I can only speak for our team, I think we handled the bubble like, really well. You know, no relationships were destroyed being there.

Hey, that’s a win.

Right?! Exactly. So, I think we’re just going to be really happy to not be in the bubble, and that’s gonna make this season even more fun and special.

Finally, with the shoe coming and you getting a chance to do this. What does this mean, for you as part of your career trajectory to have this partnership, and to be able to be the face of a launch of a shoe when you look back on the work that you’ve put into to get to this point?

I mean, it’s an amazing feeling. I know growing up, like, I’ve just always been a Nike girl. Like, being a part of a Reebok launch and the face of Reebok just was something that never crossed my mind. But now that the opportunity has presented itself, I’m so blessed and happy. I can’t imagine being a part of any other company. Like you said, it’s a completely full circle moment. My dad probably didn’t think that he would have a daughter carrying out this next thing. My little brother, he’s a little bit younger, so that would have taken a little bit longer. Just everything that me and my dad represent about relationships with daughters and their dads, who also are their coaches and their trainers. Like, it’s just an amazing relationship that we have, it’s a beautiful relationship, and I’m really happy that we can use Reebok and use basketball as vehicles to show our family dynamic and the love that we have for each other and the hard work that we’ve done to get to this point. And the support system, you know, we were his support system for his whole career still are and now the tables have turned. Now they’re my support system through my career.

So I think sometimes we just look at each other, and we’re just like, “Can you believe, like, we did this? Like, you did it and then I did it, and you were doin’ it, and now I’m doin’ it.” So it’s just like a really cool moment for the entire family.