ATLANTA – Jaylen Brown will be the first to tell you that there’s a lot that he still needs to learn about the NBA both on and off the court.
But give him credit.
He’s smart enough to know the best way to avoid mistakes is to learn from others who have walked the path he’s starting out on now in the NBA.
You can count Atlanta’s Dwight Howard among those whose advice Brown says has been invaluable to making his adjustment to the NBA a relatively smooth one.
“Dwight is like a big bro,” Brown said. “I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Brown, who grew up in Marietta, Ga. which is just 15 minutes from Atlanta which is where Howard is from, said Howard’s mentoring began when Brown was in high school.
Howard, in an exclusive interview with CSNNE.com, said he and Brown shared the same trainer who introduced them a few years ago.
From that point the two stayed in touch as Brown’s dream of becoming an NBA player became a reality when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
Howard said the conversations he has with Brown have a very clear purpose: to steer Brown from some of the mistakes Howard has made since coming into the NBA.
“When you’re talking to a guy trying to be in the NBA and stuff like that, you just always want to be real,” Howard told CSNNE.com. “For us growing up, we didn’t see the stuff that players went through. I didn’t know what to expect. I only saw the TV, what was on TV, the cars, the houses, that stuff. Once I got in, it’s a different side. That’s the side I wanted to talk to him about, just try to … I don’t want him to make any of the mistakes I made as far as away from the game. On the court, he’s going to handle himself. But away from the game, just so he doesn’t make those little mistakes that could cost you in the end.”
Brown acknowledged how appreciative he is that Howard has taken an interest in his career, something he knows Howard doesn’t have to do.
“I’ve learned from a lot of the things he said he did wrong in the league and he told me a lot of the things that went well for him,” Brown said. “So I’ve learned a lot of good things, a lot of lessons he shared with me before I got to the NBA.”
And while Howard has often been criticized for being immature, the time he has spent with Brown is a clear indication that he’s transitioning into being a mentor for players – particularly those from the same area he grew up in – can turn to with questions or advice.
“We stick together, we stay close,” Howard said. “I want what’s best for him (Brown). I’m happy for him. Coming out of Atlanta is not easy; coming where all of us came from is not easy. For him to make it, I’m proud of him.”