He likes that his former club has increased its chances for success by keeping one of its best players and that the deal comes across as more of a covenant that player and club are moving forward together for the long haul.
Pierce is also heartened that Brown, as evidenced by his comments at the signing press conference, is committing to Boston as a city after seeming to question that relationship in comments during the season. Brown chose to meet the media at MIT, where his Bridge program is creating opportunities in science and technology for those from minority areas. He spoke of spurring investment to decrease the wealth gap.
According to Pierce, such plans and aspirations make Brown even more attractive to the Celtics, a notion supported by the presence and statements of team ownership at the signing of the five-year, $304-million extension.
“Shoot, I’m happy for him,” Pierce told Heavy Sports. “You know what, Jaylen is a smart guy and his value to the city goes beyond basketball. You can tell from what he’s said. I think the Celtics looked at all of that.
“When you invest that much in somebody, it usually is something that can go beyond basketball — especially when you’re talking about the richest deal in NBA history. His influence, who he is as a person, you take that all into account. So you have to feel good giving it to somebody, and I know they feel good because of his influence, not only on the court, but off the court.”
Jaylen Brown Working on Solutions
Pierce, speaking from his home in California, appreciates that Brown is engaging further with Boston.
“Absolutely,” said the Hall of Famer and second leading scorer in Celtic history. “He’s been there longer than everybody now, and now he’s doing another long-term deal that’s going to take him into 13 years there. He has his brand (7uice) out there, and he’s feeling comfortable to be more a part of the city and the community.”
Brown had alluded to problems for people of color in the area in an interview with the New York Times, saying, “Even with me being who I am, trying to start a business, trying to buy a house, trying to do certain things, you run into some adversity.”
Pierce is happy to see that Brown is working on solutions.
“It really is hard for me to speak on what his mindset is, because he’s probably been through some stuff that I’ve never been through living in the city,” he said. “My time there was nothing but positive. I never had to experience no racism or nothing in the city. Shoot, I mean, I’m going into restaurants getting standing ovations. You know, I’m eating free meals.”
The “nothing but positive” portion of his answer obviously ignores the 2000 incident in which Pierce was stabbed at a Boston nightclub, but he explained that was not a racially motivated attack.
Pierce: ‘Racism Don’t Start & End in Boston’
Regarding Brown’s obstacles in business and purchasing a house, Pierce told Heavy Sports in a previous conversation, “I didn’t encounter that stuff.
“You’ve got to understand the racism don’t start and end in Boston. It doesn’t stop when you leave Boston. If you think it’s not there in other cities, you got something else coming, because the same things that happen in Boston can happen in D.C. or somewhere else.
“And if you want to do the real history on the Celtic franchise and what the organization has done, you know, Boston is the first organization in the sports world to have Black players as coaches. They were pioneers in all these things. So they’ve been at the forefront of a lot of things that fight racism.
“Again, I’m not taking anything away from what Jaylen has gone through; I’m just saying I’m not sharing the same experience in my time as he is. And then, this is the thing: there may be things that he’s watching and seeing on social media, too. This is a different time. More people can reach you. Me being an older player and not being raised in social media, I don’t read all that stuff, because that’s where people hide their faces and say things about you that you don’t want to hear, and, you know, you could take that to heart.”
Having gotten through a Celtic season that ended in disappointment, Pierce is most encouraged by the fact Brown is determined to improve the situation.
“That’s on the court and off the court, and that’s what you want to see from a player, a person,” Pierce said. “Basketball’s his job, but he’s more than a basketball player. People are really going to appreciate that even more as time goes on.”