Norman Black lists Justin Brownlee among his top 6 best PBA imports
MANILA, Philippines—There’s no denying that Norman Black is one of the most influential foreign players who has played in the PBA.
Black was a two-time champion and a two-time Best Import awardee during his days as an active player and he added 11 more championships when he became a coach including the 1989 Grand Slam with San Miguel.
While he has a distinguished career in the PBA, there are also six imports whom Black considers as the best to ever play in the league.
Those six players are Michael Hackett, Tony Harris, Carlos Briggs, Billy Ray Bates, Bobby Ray Parks Sr., and Justin Brownlee.
“Well I would have to say Brownlee would have to be included, I’m trying to think of the guys right now so I won’t always be biased towards the guys I’ve played against,” said Black. “But Brownlee would have to be right up there on that list.”
Brownlee was a thorn in Black’s side in the 2016, 2017, and 2019 Governors’ Cups with Barangay Ginebra winning all three of the finals matchups against Meralco.
But there’s no question Brownlee is the most successful import of his generation winning a total of four championships with the Gin Kings.
TOP OF THE LIST
Brownlee may be the top import of his time, but Bates and Parks were the men of their eras.
Bates was a certified celebrity during the 1980s with his on-court exploits earning him two Best Import awards, four titles, and a signature shoe with Grosby as the man known as “The Black Superman” captivated audiences.
Then there’s Parks, the father of Bobby Ray Parks Jr., who’s now the namesake of the Best Import Award after having won the plum a record seven times on top of four titles with San Miguel and Shell.
“Bobby Ray Parks has to be there at the top of the list too, Billy Ray Bates will probably be there,” said Black. “They would have to be there right at the top.”
Hackett, meanwhile, won just one Best Import Award but formed, arguably, the best tandem import tandem in league history when he teamed up with Bates to win the 1986 Open Conference title, his first of two championships in the PBA.
A 6-foot-5 post player, Hackett dominated the paint during his time in the league and in 1985 scored a then record of 103 points.
“I would say Michael Hackett, a great import, just totally dominating,” said Black. “Michael Hackett was just a machine.”
While the four names above played more than one season in the PBA, Harris and Briggs needed just one year to be immortalized in the PBA annals.
The 6-foot-1 Briggs played the wings for Añejo Rum in 1989 and it was in this brief time that he put up an astounding 62.1 points playing alongside Robert Jaworski, Philip Cezar, and Rudy Distrito.
Then there’s Harris, the man who set the league’s scoring record of 105 points in a single game.
Harris didn’t win a title with Swift but he did get the Best Import Award during the Third Conference.
“I kind of favor the guys who played more than one year, but if I was just to go one year, I would say, it would be a tie. They played here for just one year I would probably go with Tony Harris and Carlos Briggs,” said Black. “Great imports, great scorers, you couldn’t stop the two guys.”
“Of course they didn’t play here that long but when they did play here they made a big impact.”