Longtime Celtics Nemesis Hits Back on Jaylen Brown ‘Slander’

Celtics star Jaylen Brown (right)

Getty Celtics star Jaylen Brown (right)

Like many a modern sports media dust-up, the latest that has sprung up around Celtics star Jaylen Brown has the feel of a tempest in a teacup once it gets closer examination. Still, discussion around Brown and whether he is underrated has resulted in old Celtics villain Isiah Thomas accusing ESPN mouth Stephen A. Smith of “slander” in his recent discussion of Brown.

Where to begin? Let’s start with Smith’s comment on Brown on ESPN’s First Take this week. Smith, generally speaking, was complimentary of Brown, which makes sense given the fact that Brown was coming off his monster 40-point showing in Game 2 at the time—on the same day we learned he had been snubbed from all three All-NBA teams.

After giving Brown his due credit, Smith then read a text he said he’d received from an NBA source:

“Jaylen Brown, it’s not so much he’s underrated, it’s that he’s just not liked because of his, ‘I am better than you attitude.’ He knows it, it’s the same reason he’s not as marketable as he should be.

“That’s what an NBA source just sent me. I don’t know that to be the case. I like Jaylen Brown, I know a lot of people like Jaylen Brown, but, again, when you talk about marketability, that’s what that person is alluding to.”

Celtics Star Has Longstanding Friendship With Isiah Thomas

Reading a text from an unnamed source a bit of a shady thing to do on live TV because it allows you to make a strong stand without taking responsibility for that stand—it wasn’t me who said it, it was my source!

Thomas, rightly so, took umbrage with Smith employing this loophole. It should be mentioned that Thomas has a longstanding relationship with Brown, and back in 2016, Thomas nudged then-Celtics honcho Danny Ainge into drafting Brown.

Writing on Twitter/X, Thomas posted: “I have been a friend, mentor and advisor to (Brown) since he was a student at UC Berkeley he is 100 percent marketable and before you slander his name  @stephenasmith tell your source to put their name on it or don’t speak on it. Let it be known.”

Jaylen Brown ‘One of the Most Underrated Players’

Smith, predictably, fired back at Thomas. He was not happy, he said, that Thomas used Twitter/X to direct his criticism of Smith rather than calling him personally. But then, Smith had publicly cited an anonymous source to take a swipe at Brown, so it would only make sense that Thomas would use a public forum to defend his friend and mentee.

Wrote Smith: “I have no idea what you’re talking about @IsiahThomas. I have been a fan of Jaylen Brown for years. Still am. What’s unfortunate is that YOU — who’s known for me decades — would choose to go on X to expressed whatever dissent you feel instead of calling me directly.”

Throughout the rest of the First Take discussion on Brown, Smith did defend the Celtics star.

“He might be one of the most underrated players in the NBA, I am not going to disagree with you on that,” Smith said. “The brother can ball. When he got over $300 million, we didn’t sneeze at that because we know he has the talent to back it up. We saw him perform in the NBA Finals, he performed better than Jayson Tatum in the NBA Finals.”

Still, it was Smith who made an issue of Brown’s “attitude” problem without citing a source. And that’s what Thomas was pointing out, correctly so.