Growing up, they were never on the same team, but after just a year of watching their antics at Michigan State, one could guess they have been together their whole lives. Spartan fans might know them as the fun guys off the court, but opponents still know them as a huge threat on the court.
After a year of playing on the same team and living in the same room, sophomores Marcus Bingham Jr. and Gabe Brown have become like brothers and bring a new spirit to this Spartan basketball team.
“That’s my guy,” Bingham Jr. said.
“I knew Gabe here since AAU, just seeing him. ... We just really clicked.”
Brown said he knew they were going to mesh well as soon as they moved in together. Since then, they have shared their goofiness and desire to win with each other.
“We always clicked, ever since we first arrived on campus," Brown said. "As soon as I first met him in the dorm rooms at Brody, we clicked ever since then. I already knew we were going to be the goofiest on the team, funniest and just want to win."
The two share a room with sophomore forward Aaron Henry. The roommates try to keep the rest of the team up, and most of the time they do that by getting some laughter.
“(Brown) and Aaron (Henry) are my roommates, so just always joking around,” Bingham Jr. said.
“If we see somebody down, just try to make them laugh, ‘cause I know that’ll make somebody smile.
“Just Gabe being Gabe is going to make anyone laugh.”
The laughter the pair brings shifts the tone when it needs to be shifted. They said they know they can lighten the mood, but believe it’s important to have a team that relates to them so easily.
“We help lighten the tone at times, but it’s not just us. Everybody pitched in," Brown said. "Everybody's got a great personality, everybody wants to win and when you bring your personality and the fun and just the laughter, everything just goes by smooth."
To say the two click would be an understatement. It seems they each are able to get a rise out of the other. From the duo's bench antics to Brown’s dancing, laughter usually follows each of their actions.
During the first-ever indoor Izzone Campout, Brown demonstrated the “big boy," a dance with a name he coined himself, where he distorts his body and shoulders and moves around as awkwardly as possible.
All alone in the center of the court, Brown danced, while in the background, Bingham Jr. laughed so hard he fell to the ground.
All the other players laughed too, as did the entire Izzone in the stands. But Bingham Jr. was on the ground, rolling and kicking his feet, as Brown continued to dance center stage on the court.
That is just the kind of dynamic the friends have.
The dynamic between the two has brought a new dimension to Spartan basketball. The pair's goal was to keep the fun in basketball, and their goofiness has done so.
“It really just brings our personality to the team," Brown said. "We don’t want to be a team where it’s just keep going, keep going, just down on ourselves. It’s a lot of work. We want to at least have some fun, and basketball’s all about having fun.”
Although the two are known to be the goofiest on the team, they still take things very seriously and think that might be overlooked sometimes.
“Everybody might think Marcus is a funny, goofy person, but he really take things serious," Brown said. "I know he gets yelled at by coach and things like that, but he’s a hard worker and people don’t really get to see that.
“What we did last year, just being goofy and stuff, people didn’t really get to see that. ... But I think they are gonna see that this year.”
Bingham Jr. and Brown's dynamic has already rubbed off on the incoming freshman class. They said they see similarities between themselves and the freshmen Malik Hall and Julius Marble.
“Them always being together, and every time Malik says something, Julius laughs. Every time Julius says something, Malik laughs. The relationship that me and Gabe had coming in, I feel like they had that,” Bingham Jr. said.
The dynamic created by Brown and Bingham Jr. has changed the Spartan team. Their energy and goofiness has rubbed off on the other players and has left the locker room more lighthearted, but on the court this season, they will look to show the other side of their game.
Both put in work this off-season, taking a few weeks off, then hitting the ground running. Head Coach Tom Izzo said Brown spent more time in the gym this offseason than anyone since Shawn Respert. Bingham Jr. added weight and learned to play with it, as he has had one of the best off-seasons as well, according to Izzo.
With a season and a summer to build even more chemistry, the pair is poised to help the team both on and off the court.