Jaylen Brown said he has no issue with new head coach Ime Udoka’s criticism of his performance after Wednesday’s loss to the Washington Wizards and detailed how his body is still not quite right after coming back from a preseason bout with COVID.
Udoka called it “mind boggling” that Brown could have energy-filled nights against the Knicks and Hornets but struggled to get activated against the Wizards, this on a night the entire Celtics roster struggled with energy and focus.
Brown said he didn’t hear Udoka’s comments after Wednesday’s game but huddled with the coach on Thursday and understood his perspective.
“Ime came and talked to me about it [Thursday]. It didn't bother me. It's mind-boggling to me, too,” said Brown. "I was surprised that my body didn't respond the way it normally responds. I'm usually able to have that zip, that pop, flying up and down the court, but it wasn't there. I think that was obvious, I don't think he was out of line or anything for that.
"I gotta be better and get with my medical staff and figure how to get my body to the point where I feel normal. Some days I feel fantastic and then it's like 2-3 days, it takes my body too long to feel fantastic again. That's an issue for me. As I navigate that, we have to still tighten up on the details, tighten up on our defense, and find a way to win games. Even though I don't feel the same on the court, I could still be better in certain areas and detailed in certain areas. That's more the conversation that we have.”
Udoka understands the health challenges that Brown is facing.
"He was out for 10 days and he comes back and plays a lot of minutes and some overtime games and plays really well. But that timing and that conditioning and the things he missed in training camp could obviously be part of the problem,” said Udoka. "But it could be some COVID after-effects, you never know what that, how it hits everybody differently. I think Jayson [Tatum] struggled at times last year coming back from it, I know [Evan] Fournier went through it for a while and it affects everybody different. So could be something but it could also could be general fatigue from playing heavy minutes and playing at a high level and then coming back in the next night, he hasn't looked as sharp. So something we're all cognizant of. He's aware of it and just figure out how we can best manage him to be more consistent."
Brown said his body is simply taking longer to bounce back than it did pre-COVID.
"I’ve noticed in the last couple of days — what, four games for me now? — my body hasn’t recovered the same in a sense. I’m talking to our medical staff about that,” said Brown. "I feel great. And then it feels like instead of playing one game, it kind of feels like I played three. I’m used to my body responding and recovering a lot faster.”
Turning less serious, Brown quipped, "I know I just turned 25, but this can’t be what it looks like on the other side.”
Brown said he’s talked to Tatum about his COVID issues but noted that Tatum struggled more with his breathing and, for Brown, it’s just a recovery problem.
“I think it affects everybody a little bit differently. I think Jayson, he said more his breathing was more his concern,” said Brown.
“He had an inhaler. I didn’t really need an inhaler, I really focused on my breathing when I was in quarantine. But my recovery has kind of not been the usual kind of recovery. I usually go through a routine. And that routine works. It’s money. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years. Even after a hard game, I do my routine and I should be fine. And I still have some lingering joint pain, I still have some fatigue in my body. And I think that COVID is probably one of the main reasons.”