Celtics’ Jaylen Brown Hoping to Build on Progress, On & Off Floor

Jaylen Brown, Celtics

Getty Jaylen Brown, Celtics

This was an important season for Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, his fourth in the NBA. A year after he was given a sizable new contract by the Celtics, he came through with a breakout season, averaging 20.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, with 48.1% shooting from the field—all of which were career highs.

The normally reserved Brown took on a greater role with his team, as a player and as a leader.

But he also expanded his horizons as an off-the-court figure, leading a protest against police violence in his home city of Atlanta this summer following the death of George Floyd. He remained outspoken about social justice issues even when the NBA returned after its coronavirus hiatus this summer, and was an influential voice in the league’s Orlando bubble environment.

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In an interview with the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn this week, Brown made clear that even as he develops as a player, he wants to continue to build on that part of his legacy going forward.

“I’m not a politician,” he told Washburn. “I’m not a civil rights leader or anything like that, but I do recognize that I have a platform and hopefully I can try to enhance voices that get lost in the midst of things and also enhance all these grass-roots organizations that are devoting their time, energy, and life 24/7 to this.”

Celtics Gave Jaylen Brown a Major Contract Extension

The Celtics took a chance on giving Brown a major contract extension a year ago despite the fact that he did not progress much in his third season. His playing time (30.5 minutes to 25.9 minutes) dropped, as did his scoring (14.5 points to 13.0 points). His effective field-goal percentage, which takes 3-point shots into account, dropped from 54.0% to 52.5%.

The Celtics were reluctant to give Brown the big extension, but after other players—Sacramento’s Buddy Hield, most prominently—cashed in, Boston felt compelled to follow suit. The team has been pleased with Brown’s development on all fronts.

Celtics president Danny Ainge explained in a conference call this month, “I’ve said this a few times about Jaylen. He’s an impressive young man, and I’m really proud of him and how his game has developed from the time I met him, I’m not surprised. Nobody would be surprised that he has become the voice of our locker room, the voice of our organization.”

Jaylen Brown Making ‘Helping Your Community’ Cool

Brown explained to Washburn how he hoped to make “helping your community” into something thought of as, “cool.” Brown said:

Any time I’m in front of a camera or I know people are going to see me, I always try to think of the people that’s watching in my community. I’m human. I’m young. I make mistakes. I carry myself with the regard that people are going to be watching me and I want them to know that things that are cool now, that are trends, don’t have to be trends.

The cars. The lifestyle. The women. All that type of stuff is cool, but also taking care of your family, speaking on your community, helping your community, using your voice. I want that to be cool, too. Not just who you are dating on Instagram, not what kind of car you’ve got or house you’ve got. It also should be cool that you helped your community, that you started a community store in your neighborhood. Those should be flexes, rather than the jewelry or the stuff that’s the norm for NBA players.

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