LOS ANGELES – A year ago this time, Jaylen Brown couldn’t even get an invite to the rookie-sophomore game, the Rising Stars Challenge.
But this year, he was there and he played a prominent role for Team USA even though it wasn’t enough as the Team World squad easily won, 155-124.
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It certainly wasn’t because of Brown who led all scorers with 35 points on 14-for-21 shooting along with 10 rebounds.
And it was vintage Brown, mixing in an array of jumpers, 3-pointers and of course a pair memorable between-the-leg dunks.
Brown put on a show, for sure which isn’t all that surprising when you consider how the perceived snub last year served as added motivation for him on Friday night.
“Definitely I feel like I've got a chip on my shoulder, so I come out with that tenacity that I want people to recognize,” Brown told reporters after the game. “I want people to see. I just come out and play with that fire and let everything else fall into place.”
In addition to leading all scorers on Friday night, Brown also set a Celtics record for most points scored in the rookie-sophomore game.
“Like I said before, it's just great being here,” Brown said. “It's a tremendous opportunity. I just thank the NBA for letting me be part of this weekend. I had a lot of fun, and I just came out and was playing some basketball. Simple.”
Brown's Celtics teammate, rookie Jayson Tatum, came off the Team USA bench and scored 15 points.
And while they didn’t play too many stints together on Friday, both being selected for the game is a reminder of just how their progression and growth within the Celtics organization is along the same lines for each of them.
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“This year we've grown tremendously together,” Brown said. “Just studying older guys – Kyrie [Irving], Marcus Morris, [Aron] Baynes, and learning the game together, Al Horford. So me and him have gotten better together. So anytime you can grow with somebody in this league and also be successful, it's always dope being a part of situations like this. Like the Rising Stars Challenge I think is pretty cool. I think in the future, if we continue to stay together and continue to grow, I think we could be special.”
The same could be said for Brown’s play on Friday night, the kind of performance that speaks to the improvement in his game this season.
“My growth from last year to this year was significant, and my growth from this year to next year is going to be even better,” Brown said. “So, that's all it's about at the end of the day. It's not about dominating, it's not about this. It's just about getting better each and every day, you know, and just trying to hang a banner in Boston.”
Here are some of Brown's best moves: