The key to Brown's growth with Celtics? He points to Stevens

The key to Brown's growth with Celtics? He points to Stevens

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brad Stevens may seem pretty mild-mannered on the sidelines, but his players tell a different story.

Stevens is a likable guy, but don’t think for a minute that he’ll hesitate to get on a player who isn’t doing something as well as he believes they should.


And nobody sees that side of Stevens more than Celtics second-year wing Jaylen Brown.

Stevens is more consumed by telling players what they need to know and not necessarily what they want to hear.

Brown said Stevens has never told him that he would be harder on him than some others, but what they have is an unspoken understanding on the matter built upon respect and improvement – both in Brown’s game and the Celtics’ win total.

“It is what it is,” Brown said prior to practice Saturday ahead of Boston's playoff opener Sunday afternoon at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. “I have a job to do; Brad has a job to do. We understand that. He’s trying to win games, I’m trying to win games. At the end of the day, that’s what a leader does. They lead to a common goal. Brad Stevens is our coach, our leader. In Brad we trust.”

The relationship between Stevens and his healthiest leading scorer (14.5 points per game) is cemented in large part on Brown’s willingness to be coached, which sets him apart from a lot of the top prospects who come into the NBA having done things their way and haven't necessarily been coached to embrace the teachings of others.

“We use the phrase, growth-oriented,” Stevens said. “Nobody is more focused on getting better in the process in growth, than Jaylen. Jaylen is easy to coach because he wants to be coached. He wants to be good. And he’s really important to us. I really appreciate his mindset in that regard.”


Brown is quick to add that he came to the NBA with that mindset and approach to individual progress.  

“It’s more of a mindset thing,” Brown said. “The NBA doesn’t have time to babysit nobody. Especially a 20, 19-year old kid, coming in on a playoff team. I didn’t want to give anybody any room to say he’s not ready, or ‘Okay, he has to mature. It was my mindset from the get-go. Everything is a growth experience for me. They may not see it now, but they’ll see it soon.”

Brown was the team’s No. 2 scorer behind Kyrie Irving, who will be out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery.

The 6-foot-7 wing shot 46.5 percent from the field and just under 40 percent (39.5 percent to be exact) from 3-point range.

And with Irving out, Brown will be among those called upon to contribute more than they did during the regular season.

Sure it’s a change, but it’s something Brown knew would come his way sooner or later.

“That’s what the NBA is about. That’s what life is about; being able to adapt,” Brown said. “That was key for a lot of young guys coming into the league, not knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Being able to adapt. I’ve adapted well. [Celtics rookie] Jayson Tatum has adapted really well.”

And that ability to make the necessary changes on the fly has been aided in part by the tough love relationship that has developed between Stevens and Brown.

When asked what do him and Stevens usually talk about, Brown said, “pretty much just doing better. Every time I talk to Brad, it’s always, ‘what I can be doing better.’”

And you won’t find Brown complaining; just the opposite, actually.

“That’s fine; that’s what I want,” Brown said. “I just want to get better. I just want to help the team. That’s his job to bring the most out of each and everybody. so when you understand that it doesn’t really matter what he says because we have the same goals. I want to win and be the best that I can be. That’s what he wants to do too. So no matter what, we’re on the same page.”


Anything is Podable Episode 6: The games behind-the-scenes

Anything is Podable Episode 6: The games behind-the-scenes

It’s hard not to be intense when Kevin Garnett is on your team. For the 07-08 Celtics, that fire extended beyond the court and into every waking moment they spent together.

Episode 6 of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” goes behind-the-scenes with the members of the world champion Celtics to get a never-before-heard glimpse into the games and competitions that brought them all closer together.

“Everything is about competition and we, as a staff, understood that early,” said Doc Rivers. “For practices, if there was no score, it was a bad practice. All you had to do was put a winner and a loser and the practice went from here to here. It was just that type of group.”

Whether it was on road trips, at practice, or in the weight room, everything about the team revolved around competition and an innate desire to win.

“Everything was competitive,” stated Rajon Rondo. “The boxing gloves came out in the weight room.”

As is the case with every great team, the bonding off the court was essential to finding success on it. Anything that could possibly be turned into a competition, was.

Arm wrestling? Check.

Push-upsYou bet.

On a road trip in Miami, Paul Pierce challenged Glen Davis to eat a large piece of bread in under one minute.

“Have you ever tried to eat a piece of bread like that?” Davis asked. “It gets dry. You can’t swallow it. It sounds easy, but people don’t know how dry bread is...I almost like choked and died.”

“You’re talking about a guy who loved to eat,” Pierce joked.

“I couldn’t do it,” Davis responded.

Competition off the court breeds competition on the court and, while the talent helped, little games like the ones played on road trips were vital to the Celtics achieving their ultimate goal.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.

Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

A story earlier this week from Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes calling burgeoning young Celtics star Jayson Tatum one of the NBA's five most overrated players has expectedly ruffled some feathers in the Boston sports stratosphere. 

But Tatum himself is taking the high road. In a conversation with ESPN's Chris Forsberg centered around his recent workouts with future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, the 20-year-old forward, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting this past season, said he wasn't bothered by the article:

While Hughes acknowledged that Tatum could be a franchise player, his reasoning for inclusion on the list was that he could be a victim of the stacked team for which he plays, saying, "Kyrie has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover."

As for the session with Kobe? Tatum clearly absorbed a lot:

Hughes also named Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, Bulls foward Zach LaVine and Suns forward Josh Jackson in the company of overhyped players.

It's been quite a week for Tatum, the former No. 3 overall pick out of Duke University. Earlier in the week, the St. Louis native had his jersey number permanently retired at his high school alma mater.