It’s been an eventful few weeks for Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, a period where he has fully understood and comprehended the power of his words and has been subjected to mass speculation about his future in Boston because of those words.
Because he hasn’t committed to staying in Boston for the rest of his career and because he called out the city for difficulties such as purchasing a home and starting a business, there has been mass speculation Brown is strongly considering playing elsewhere after his contract expires in 2024.
And then there’s the additional caveat of the All-NBA team. If Brown receives his first All-NBA selection, the Celtics could offer him nearly $300 million in his next contract. No NBA player has ever rejected a supermax extension.
Making the All-NBA team is important to Brown. Not only monetarily, but also because it shows a level of respect he feels has been denied throughout his career. He feels he doesn’t receive enough credit for his ascension and improvement. Being named among the top 15 players would confirm his rise to the elite.
The media votes for the All-NBA team, as it does for all other NBA player awards. Some players have openly campaigned for certain honors. Brown is uncomfortable with such appeals, but he understands how critical an All-NBA accolade is to his career and perhaps his long-term tenure in Boston.
“It definitely has a role or an effect on your future,” he told the Globe on Friday. “Sometimes it’s uncomfortable when stuff like that gets to be left out of your control. But it’s the part of the world that we live in.
“I think I’m more than deserving. This is the second-best team in the league. I’ve played nothing but winning basketball, helped lead my team and I’m in the [top] 10 in scoring and I’m efficient. I guess you look at the criteria and I think I more than meet it. We’ve dominated for the most part of the season. I’ve been available. What more do people want?
“But it’s out of my control.”
For Brown, having to alert the national media and basketball observers of his accomplishments is the latest case of being overlooked. Brown has carried that chip since his rookie season, and feels he has had to fight for his respect and regard around the league.
‘I see myself as a guy who is constantly having to prove myself. That’s fine. But in reality, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anybody,” he said. “I’m going to come out and do my job each and every night, what’s asked of me on a consistent basis. I’m going to come out and get better every year until the day I die. That’s just the type of guy I am. That’s how my brain functions. I like to concern myself less with what others think, but now you get put into these moments and it’s like you don’t have a choice.
“[Bleep] it, I’m campaigning for myself.”
Brown said he doesn’t regret his comments in the past few weeks, but definitely feels he’s been misunderstood and his statements misconstrued.
“It’s been a lot, to be honest,” he said. “Just a bunch of people chiming in. I see other people kind of running off things that I never said. Rumors lead to speculation. Speculation leads to misquotes and people going out and saying things that I don’t remember saying.
“It’s just a part of it. I get it that it’s the industry we’re in. Last couple of weeks have been — what’s the word I’m looking for? — It’s been a lot.”
Brown talked to the Ringer in January and the Times in March. The two articles were released during the same Celtics’ West Coast road trip last month. He wasn’t pleased.
“I was doing the best I can to keep any distractions away from the locker room,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in doing too much outside media, but I guess it kind of snowballed after the New York Times [story], and people have been holding pieces and they put it all [out] at the same time to make it just seem like I just went on tour or something.
“It came out the way people want to see things, and that’s through a controversial lens. In reality, I have thoughts and opinions about certain things and that doesn’t mean I’m angry or upset, just sharing my thoughts and my opinions.”
Brown is one of the vice presidents of the NBA Players Association and fully understands the league is a business. He has been questioned in recent weeks about his happiness in Boston and his desire to remain here long-term.
“I’m just enjoying my time, and I’ve said that multiple times,” he said. “I’m enjoying winning. I’m enjoying being here with my teammates, with my guys. My family’s here as well, going on eight years. It’s a blessing to be here on a 50-win team. You can’t take none of that stuff for granted.”
Brown was asked pointedly about what exactly makes him happy. And his response was very typical of a man who at times appears to carry the world on his shoulders.
“Helping people,” he said. “Helping people, for sure. Using my platform to make a difference for the next generation. The next generation of athletes, or just people from my community or extended community or global community.
“I think there are a lot of issues that need more light, and sometimes we spend more time talking about stuff that’s more distracting and I think using my platform to divert some things to what we need to talk about. Stuff like that makes me happy, knowing I essentially could be helping somebody in the future.”
Understanding that helping people is a never-ending responsibility, Brown is not daunted.
“I’ll sign up for it every single time,” he said. “It’s part of who I am. But if I sit around and do nothing, that will make me more miserable than anything. But I think my faith is what keeps me going. You have faith that using your platform is making a difference somewhere. You may not see it, but that doesn’t mean it is not affecting somebody’s household. I don’t always see it, but I just have faith that speaking up for somebody.”
There remains the question as to whether Brown is really happy with his situation.
“I’m blessed for sure,” he said. “I’m blessed.”