Not Only is Jaylen Brown a Great Player, He's an Inspiration to us All
After 14 wins in a row, it’s hard not to smile. It may not have been the best performance of the season as a team, but a win’s a win, right? It feels fantastic to be a Celtics fan right now, and even more so, it’s an honour to watch some of the greatest players in the NBA continue to build their potential. Now, I could talk about why we deserve to be where we are, or how the players are managing to play as well as they are doing all day, but in truth, I kind of want to talk about one individual. An individual who not only is a huge inspiration, but is also in the run in for Boston’s player of the season so far.
Jaylen Brown is in his second season as a pro, but based on his performance against the Golden State Warriors, you’d think he’d been playing for much longer. He led the scoring with 22 points, made 7 rebounds, had a remarkable defensive game with 2 blocks and 2 steals, but most importantly, he dunked on Kevin Durant. This guy has a bright future in the NBA, and it’s such a joy to watch him play. Hey, if we’re being picky, Jaylen needs to tighten his jumper, but he’s still dropping points outside the paint, and we’ve seen the swingman improve so much already, so it’s only a matter of time.
The evening before Boston’s victory against the Warriors, Jaylen received some tragic news, and knowing what we know now, it’s remarkable how he managed to play the way he did. "My best friend passed last night,” Brown said after the game. “It was tough to kind of accept it. Everybody was kind of in shock. But I knew coming into today that he would have wanted me to play. It was hard getting my thoughts together, but after talking to his mom and his family, they inspired me to come out and play.
"I wasn't in any shape to come out. I didn't want to leave my room. But they inspired me to come out and play. And I came out and played in his spirit today. My teammates held me up and we pulled it out." Brown is detrimental to the Celtics this season, and it’ll only prove more as the season unfolds; knowing we have a player with such grit, determination and heart fills me with confidence. Nobody would’ve blamed him for sitting it out – no one. But it seems that – thanks to a strong bond with his teammates, a strong coach who’s dealt with players losing loved ones before (all our love, IT), and a phone call from Steede’s mother, we saw Brown go full on beast mode, being the man to turn the tide repeatedly at the TD Garden.
Trevin Steede had known Jay since high school, and they’d played basketball together, with Jaylen potentially taking his place after he transferred schools. "[Steede] tells this story all the time: I transferred schools to play basketball at Wheeler High School. He was already there. And they transferred me in," Brown said. "Ultimately, I was probably taking his spot, but I remember I didn't have any friends sitting at the lunch table. The first few days I sat by myself and acted like I'm too cool, I didn't need anybody. You know what I mean? Like, I'm an introvert. I'll be all right"
And he walked up to me on the third or fourth day and asked me who I was sitting with, even though I wasn't sitting with anybody. And then he told me to come over and sit with him. And ever since then we've been best friends. For him to do that even though the circumstances, ever since then that's been my brother, you know?" You could tell as Jaylen was speaking just how sore the pain of Trevin’s death sat heavy on his heart. It’s clear just what an inspiration this kid is, and how he played despite the struggle he endured is a lesson to us all.
I feel like there’s something truly special about being a part of the Boston Celtics – there always has been that feeling, and in times of despair, basketball is our constant companion. That locker room is filled with some great guys, all supportive of each other, and their closeness shows on the court. The team rallied around him and pulled together, especially guys like Kyrie who handed him the game ball after the match, telling Jaylen "this one’s for Trevin.”
Jaylen played for his best friend, for the fans, and for his team mates, but he played for himself, regardless of if it felt like he did or not, because that performance set him apart from so many other players in the league. That performance showed he is ready to step up, ready to play his heart out, and ready to deliver game-winning performances despite what adversities he faces, because that’s just the kind of player he is. A warrior, a champion, and a born winner. Thank you, Jaylen, and God bless.