Celtics

Jaylen opens up about knee issue, changing Celtics' 'culture'

Celtics

Jaylen Brown means business entering his sixth NBA season.

The Boston Celtics guard averaged career highs in nearly every category in 2020-21 while earning his first All-Star nod. He also endured individual and collective frustration, though, dealing with a nagging knee ailment and suffering a late-season wrist injury that forced him to watch the Celtics' first-round playoff exit from the sideline.

The good news: Brown says his knee issue -- revealed as tendonitis in February -- is a thing of the past.

"My body feels a lot better," Brown told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears in a recent interview. "I’m more athletic than I was last season. I had knee problems last year that were lingering and I hope that I won’t have this season.

"Somebody told me I had 12, probably like, 15 dunks in 58 games, or something like that. I’m like, 'That’s not me.' "

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That person is selling Brown a little short: NBA.com tracking data counted 35 dunks for Brown last season. That number was down from 47 dunks the season before, however, and the Celtics certainly could benefit from a more explosive version of the 24-year-old wing.

Brown also is hoping to benefit from a new supporting cast around he and Jayson Tatum. With a new head coach in Ime Udoka and several new additions like Dennis Schroder, Al Horford, Josh Richardson and Enes Kanter, Brown wants the C's to have a new attitude this season.

 

"It ain’t just on me and JT," Brown said. "I know that we’re the ones that are in front of the media, but it’s going to be a team effort, and an organization and a coaching effort.

"We all are changing the culture, off the court and on the court. And it’s going to take every one of us."

Udoka will play a big role in changing that culture after eight seasons of Brad Stevens as head coach. Brown told Spears that he stressed to Celtics ownership and the front office the importance of hiring a Black coach to replace Stevens and received positive feedback.

"They were on board with it," Brown said. "They talked about it. It wasn’t like it was just about being African American. [Udoka is] more than qualified."

Brown's full interview with Spears is worth a read: He discusses his reaction to seven Black coaches being hired in the NBA this offseason, how he feels about being a leader in the NBA's social justice movement and the work he's doing to create educational opportunities for low-income kids in the Boston area.