Celtics

Shut up and dribble? 'That's ridiculous' says Jaylen Brown

Shut up and dribble? 'That's ridiculous' says Jaylen Brown

BOSTON – LeBron James has not been the least bit coy about his thoughts on President Trump, which makes James not all that different than, you know, most citizens of this country.

There are those from all walks of life who think he’s done a lousy job while others like the job he’s done thus far.

Apparently, James’ thoughts on the president should not be expressed, at least that’s the sentiment of Fox commentator Laura Ingraham who believes James should “shut up and dribble” after James and Kevin Durant had some not-so-flattering comments about President Trump.

When made aware of Ingraham’s response to James’ comments, the Celtics' Jaylen Brown didn’t mince words in expressing how he felt on the matter.

“That’s ridiculous,” Brown said of Ingraham’s “shut up and dribble” comment. “That’s the kind of notion that’s been occurring over the last 10, 15 years and in this generation, we’re trying to change that. You got athletes who are politicians, venture capitalists, musicians, rappers, etc., so it’s becoming more of a popular thing to have other interests outside of basketball. I think that’s normal. Just like people, they have day jobs, but they have interests in sports; they’re into investments, they do all these other types of things.”

Indeed, James is just one of the growing number of professional athletes who are voicing their opinions on social concerns more often in what they perceive as the landscape of this country changing...and not for the better.

But in speaking out on what some athletes believe are problems in our nation that they believe are connected with the current president, there is the potential alienation of fans, which could potentially damage a player’s image in the eyes of some, as well as their brand.

Ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested what he believed was increasing social injustice and police brutality by taking a knee while the national anthem played.

Kaepernick’s action set into motion a movement that saw other NFL players take a similar stance.

Still, it has come at a cost for Kaepernick, who was not signed by any NFL team even after a number of teams had multiple injuries at quarterback, which has led to Kaepernick filing a lawsuit against the NFL for alleged collusion.

Seeing how quickly Kaepernick’s playing career stalled, players who voice their support for reform for various social issues run the risk of having a similar outcome to their respective careers.

Brown recalls various basketball camps, in addition to media training sessions, leading up to the 2016 NBA draft, where he was warned about the potential fallout if he took on certain political and social issues.

“They almost teach you to be...not say anything that will get you any backlash or not saying anything out of the norm,” Brown said. “What you’re saying could be true to yourself, but ‘don’t say anything about politics, don’t say anything that is on the line or anything that’s on the fence because you can get backlash for it.’”

Brown added, “As an athlete, if you’re educated on a topic and believe something, I feel like it should be okay to say it.”

There’s a certain responsibility that Brown, 21, believes comes with the platform that he and his fellow NBA players have at their disposal, a position he does not take lightly.

And in his time around other NBA players, he’s found that they too are more thoughtful about issues such as politics and social issues, than they are given credit for.

Part of that involves a long-standing narrative that NBA players and professional athletes in general, are more consumed by their respective sports than real-life issues and concerns that don’t involve sports.

That’s why when it comes to chiming in on social issues and topics of the day, Brown has a pretty simple rule on deciding which issues to speak about.  

“The ones you know about,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. If you’re informed on a situation or you feel you’re informed, and your perspective can be beneficiary, say what’s on your mind. I don’t believe in holding your tongue. Especially something that people can directly benefit from, especially young people watching, looking up to you. Who’s to say if you’re a basketball player, you can’t chime in on other subjects, other topics of the day? I will always disagree with that until the day I die.”

Brown came to Los Angeles for NBA All-Star Weekend eager to play basketball obviously, but he also arranged to have some players spend some time around venture capitalists – something he believes can be of benefit to NBA players later in life.

“It’s super-necessary to always have things to not only challenge not only your physical but also your mental as well,” Brown said. “As athletes, we work on our physical part each and every day, but developing the mental side is important as well. So, what I wanted to do for All-Star weekend, was something that was mentally engaging but also help players long term.”

Brown said the gathering this weekend is about “an education before investment,” adding that it’s about, “learning about this field before you go spending money and investing in things that you have no idea what’s going on. It’s better to learn early than late. So, I’m trying to get a lot of these young guys you see here today to come along with me, to put them in a room full of people who are very successful in that field and maybe bridge some of those gaps.”

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Enes Kanter wants to finish season, thinks Celtics have a chance to win title

Enes Kanter wants to finish season, thinks Celtics have a chance to win title

It has now been 25 days since the Boston Celtics last played and 24 days since the NBA suspended its season over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. And right now, it's unclear when -- or if -- the season will resume.

And even if the games do return, there is going to be an adjustment period for players as they look to get back into game shape. In a Zoom conference on Friday, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter outlined why the league can't just jump right back into the playoffs without any sort of tune-up.

"I think we’ll need two to three weeks just to get back on the court because people are in their apartments and not moving at all," Kanter said, as transcribed by Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. "We have to make sure everyone is doing their stuff and in great shape, so they can go out and compete. If you jump straight to playoffs, playoffs are like a war, where you have to give it everything you have. Make sure everyone is 100 percent healthy, in game shape, and then we can compete."

This completely makes sense, as the last thing the league wants is to put the players in danger of suffering long-term injuries by bringing them back too quickly. Additionally, the league probably would also want their players in peak physical shape in order to avoid fielding a subpar product in the playoffs.

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Even with the uncertainty surrounding a potential NBA return, Kanter is holding out hope that the season will return. And he's pretty confident in the C's chances of going all the way if it does happen.

"We are competitors man, so we want to go out there and finish the season,'' he said. "Especially, like, it’s crazy — we actually have a really good chance to go out there and win a championship.''

Kanter has a point. The Celtics were the No. 3 seed in the East at the time of the league's suspension, but with time to get healthy, they may have a chance to have their full roster available, something they've rarely had this season. And their relative youth could allow them to get into shape quicker than some other more veteran-laden teams.

Still, until the league actually does return, it'll be more waiting and wondering what could've been for the Celtics had the season continued.

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Kevin Garnett's greatest impact? Elevating everything - and everyone - around him

Kevin Garnett's greatest impact? Elevating everything - and everyone - around him

When it comes to Kevin Garnett, statistically speaking, he’s one of the best of our generation and a no-brainer to go into the Naismith Hall of Fame on his first shot at basketball immortality.

But my fondest memories of him have little to do with the 2008 NBA title in Boston or the menacing scowl all opponents were greeted with every game, or even the intensity that he played with every second he was on the floor. 

When I think of Kevin Garnett, I think of how he elevated everything and everyone around him and cared for those around him more than he often let on. 

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Rookies soon found out the guy who was kicking their ass in practice and cussing them out when they didn’t listen is the same dude who would buy them suits at the start of the season because he wanted them to not only learn how to be pros but also look like it.

“He did a lot of good things that people didn’t know,” former Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on more than one occasion. “When rookies came in, he would bring them up to my office. He’d sit them down, and then he would bring his tailor in and say, ‘If you want to be a pro, you’ve got to dress like a pro.’ And he would buy each rookie two suits, and he did it every year. To me, that says a lot about Kevin Garnett as a teammate.” 

One of my first encounters with Kevin Garnett came in the early 2000s when he was in Minnesota and I was in Detroit covering the Detroit Pistons. 

Joe Smith, the former No. 1 overall pick and at that time one of KG’s best friends, was returning to Minnesota after a one-year stint in Detroit. So, naturally, the three of us reporters traveling with the team were waiting in the locker room to talk with Smith at the team’s morning shoot-around. 

Out of nowhere, KG came in, nodded to us before saying, “I’ll be with you guys in a minute.” And we were like, ‘uh … OK.”

He must have spent 15 minutes talking to us about his relationship with Joe Smith, the importance of friendship and trust and family, respect for the game … it all made sense to me at that moment. If you are a competitor, there is no better teammate in the world than Kevin Garnett. 

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“He’s the best, man,” Chauncey Billups, a former Celtic and Piston and — maybe most important — good friend of KG’s, told me back then. “He’s a great player. Everybody knows that. But as a teammate? They don’t come any better than KG.”

Indeed, Garnett is passionate about everything it takes to play basketball at the highest level. I have always felt there’s a short list of elite players who fall under the category of five-tool talents who can score, rebound, defend, pass and make their teammates better — all at a high level. 

In all my years of covering sports, KG is the only player I have ever been around who had Hall of Fame-caliber skills in all five of those categories. 

And since he has retired, we have chatted a few times about his days in Boston and how he’s getting used to his new role on the other side of the camera. 

More smiles now, but the intensity to be his best? It’s still there and then some.

Now, he’s off to the Hall of Fame where he will finally be in the company of those whose passion for the game is close to his own, men and women who for years Garnett appreciated for the paths they blazed for him and so many others who have come and will continue to come after him.