Originally created 05/12/00

Brand, Francis share rookie award



CHICAGO -- When Elton Brand and Steve Francis talked to each other this week, their conversation went something like a game of hot potato.

"You're going to get it."

"No, YOU'RE going to get it."

Relax, guys, you both got it. Brand and Francis, the first two picks in last summer's draft, were co-winners of the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award Thursday.

It's only the third time two rookies have shared the honor. Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were co-winners in 1994-95, and Dave Cowens and Geoff Petrie shared in 1970-71.

"Any rookie will tell you they want to be the sole winner, but I was going up against the No. 1 pick and it's tough to beat him out," Francis said.

Brand said, "I have a part of it, a part of history. You can't be disappointed about winning rookie of the year. Even if it's co-winners ..."

Brand said he also was sharing the award with his mother, Daisy, who moved to Chicago with him and attended all but one of his games. He surprised his mother with flowers and gave her a kiss after accepting the award.

"Without my mom, it would have been a lot tougher," Brand said. "At 21 years old, it helps having your mom in the area."

Brand and Francis each received 58 of a possible 121 votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Clippers received three votes, and Andre Miller of the Cleveland Cavaliers got two.

Brand is the second Bulls player to win the rookie award. Michael Jordan won in 1984-85. Jordan was the Bulls' first No. 1 pick.

"He absolutely lived up to our expectations," Bulls coach Tim Floyd said of Brand. "He deserves the credit for that because he had a lot of pressure on him as the No. 1 pick, particularly in this organization because of what preceded him."

Francis, traded to Houston after initially being selected second overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies, is the second Rockets player to win the award. Ralph Sampson won it in 1983-84.

"He came into a changing environment where we had more than 20 starting lineups, and through it all he grew by leaps and bounds," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.