Jaylen Brown has been a key contributor for the Boston Celtics over the last three years, but perhaps his biggest impact has been made off the court.
The 23-year-old recently has made his voice heard in the wake of George Floyd's horrific murder at the hands of a Minnesota police officer. Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to organize a peaceful protest and has been vocal about police brutality as well as the racial injustice that remains prevalent in the United States.
Brown has made his fellow Celtics proud, including head coach Brad Stevens and owner Wyc Grousbeck. On Saturday, Grousbeck talked to WBZ-TV's Dan Roche about the "special person" Brown is.
“Since day one when I met Jaylen, back in (2015), it was so obvious that he’s just special – a special person with special character,” Grousbeck told Roche. “He has educated me, to be perfectly honest. I’ve spent time talking with him and a couple other players in-depth over the last few days because I’ve realized I have a lot to learn, that I thought I knew and I didn’t know, just to be honest.
"And so, I’ve spent time listening to Jaylen, talking to Jaylen, trying to learn from Jaylen to be perfectly honest. I didn’t know that I would have, really, but the whole situation is shocking and surprising and stunning and disappointing and all of that. Jaylen might be a way for us to sort of move forward. He is a very, very good person with a very good conscience.”
It's clear Brown set an example for his C's teammates and fellow Boston athletes with his peaceful protest. Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter, and Vincent Poirier followed suit with their own protest in Boston, and Bruins captain Zdeno Chara did the same.
Kemba Walker was this close to becoming a New York Knick instead of a Boston Celtic last summer.
Before signing a four-year, $141 million contract with the C's, Walker considered the Knicks in free agency. The 30-year-old said last fall he believed Boston was "just a better fit" for him despite New York being his hometown team.
Walker shed more light on whether he had serious interest in joining the Knicks during this week's episode of The Ringer's "R2C2" podcast.
“To be honest, yes. Yes. Very serious, very,” Walker said ... "Before Boston actually came along, the Knicks were one of my top priorities, actually, because I was thinking they were gonna get another player. But it didn’t work out.”
Was there ever a chance @KembaWalker would play for the Knicks?
New York was rumored to be in the running to sign Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant, but both stars chose the Brooklyn Nets instead. It was a rough offseason for the Knicks, to say the least.
In his first year as a Celtic, Walker is averaging 20.8 points and 4.8 assists per game. The four-time All-Star has dealt with a nagging knee injury over the last several months but is encouraged by the progress he's made in the Orlando bubble.
"For me to feel like myself again, it definitely feels good. Just gives me a lot of confidence heading into those games," Walker said on the "R2C2" podcast.
The C's will need a healthy Walker if they're to have a shot at Banner 18.
The Boston Celtics gave their best performance of the NBA's restart in Wednesday night's blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets, and a boost from two of their most recent first-round picks played a key role in the victory.
Boston's bench scoring has been hit or miss in the seeding games so far, but the second unit didn't disappoint against the Nets. Second-year center Robert Williams scored a career-high 18 points with five rebounds and three blocks. Rookie guard Romeo Langford didn't make a huge impact offensively with only four points, but his defense was fantastic.
The Nets are one of the worst teams in the Orlando bubble, so while the performances of Williams and Langford are no doubt encouraging, the Celtics need these guys to make a similar impact versus the top teams in the Eastern Conference, too.
On a new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, our C's insider Chris Forsberg gives his take on Williams' and Langford's play so far, and what the future holds for them with the playoffs approaching.
"Here's what I think Brad will take away. He'll sit back and he'll say, none of these guys have really stepped up and grasped their opportunity through the scrimmage games and early seeding games, and with a chance because Kemba (Walker) was out and the starters didn't play a lot of minutes (against the Nets), (the young guys) finally sort of grasped the opportunity," Forsberg said. "But again, it's what you do from there. ... It's not like you have one good game and (Celtics coach Brad Stevens) just throws you in there. If I had to guess which rookie is still most likely to have the biggest impact, I'm starting to lean toward Langford because he has shown defensively that you can put him in there and even in small bursts of minutes be able to give you something, and to be a steady presence. I think that's important.
"It's nice to see Rob Williams out there, and there were still a good amount of defenses lapses -- a lot of which he makes up for because he's so athletic. But when I convene the Robert Williams fan club for our weekly meeting tonight, I'm going to tell the congregation, look, let's not get too high or too low, we have to see Rob come back and build off (Wednesday night). My hope is that Rob is the first guy in the gym, even on an off day after two games. That he's in there working, busting his butt and showing that he's ready for that opportunity. If he does that, he's got a better chance to get some minutes. If he got a DNP (against the Raptors), I wouldn't be shocked because that's how Brad operates. But Grant (Williams), Romeo -- one of those guys is going to get a chance in the playoffs and they have to be ready for that opportunity."
Robert Williams could see some action versus the Raptors for the simple fact that Toronto is a pretty big team. He would be a good matchup against Raptors center Marc Gasol or power forward Serge Ibaka. Grant Williams also has good size and a high defensive IQ, so he could match up against those Raptors big men as well.
Coaches typically shorten their rotations in the playoffs and only give minutes to players they can trust. But there are plenty of scenarios, including foul trouble, injuries, etc., that force guys at the end of the bench to play a role. For the Celtics to make a deep playoff run, they'll need young players such as Langford and both Williams' to give them some good minutes against contending teams.
One of the best ways to find out which players are capable of handling that burden is actually giving them minutes before the playoffs, and Friday's game against the Raptors is a good opportunity to see how these young guys respond.