Almost from the moment Jaylen Brown emerged as an NBA prospect, we heard tales of his hyper-intelligence. Brown had his pick of Division I programs and chose Cal-Berkeley for the classroom challenge and its proximity to venture capitalism. During his first semester, he wrote a graduate-level dissertation on the impact of sports on the education system. He plays chess, loves reading and keeps a journal. The highlight of his summer was a trip to the Nelson Mandela Museum in South Africa.
“He is an extremely intelligent kid,” an anonymous assistant NBA general manager told The Undefeated before the Boston Celtics took Brown third in the 2016 draft. “He took a graduate school class at Cal in his freshman year. He is a person who is inquisitive about everything. Because he is so smart, it might be intimidating to some teams. He wants to know why you are doing something instead of just doing it. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s a form of questioning authority. It’s not malicious. He just wants to know what is going on. Old-school coaches don’t want guys that question stuff.”
That was a ridiculous and racially insensitive take from an NBA executive who probably preferred to remain unnamed for a reason. Leave it to Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz, of all people, to provide a more reasoned scouting report after Brown led the Celtics to a 12th straight win on Sunday:
The first time I hung out with Jaylen Brown @FCHWPO he was an 18 or 19yr old freshman. My first thought was he should forget wasting time in the NBA and just run for the Senate. But then I remembered Bill Bradley and thought…(shrug) why not just do it all?
— Counting Crows (@CountingCrows) November 13, 2017
Jaylen Brown, the next Bill Bradley? Far be it for me to doubt the “Rain King” who dated Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox at the height of “Friends.” Duritz is a man who wishes things into existence.
Bradley, of course, won a pair of NBA championships for the New York Knicks during a Hall of Fame basketball career before serving three terms as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey and running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000. And Brown appears to be all for the comparison:
Brown has the basketball part down. He’s averaging 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in his second NBA season, leading the Celtics (12-2) to the league’s best start to the 2017-18 campaign. It’s not even December yet, and with Brown, there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.
As for the politics? The 21-year-old Brown has been as outspoken as any player of his generation, standing behind Colin Kaepernick’s quest for social justice and racial equality while standing against President Donald Trump’s crusade to silence the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
Brown quotes Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from memory. “The day we choose to be silent about the things that matter is the day our life ends,” he told a Boston crowd before a game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during February of his rookie season. “Choose love, not hate. Hate is too much of something to burden. We have to continue to push forward as people. If we can’t fly, then run. If we can’t run, then walk. If we can’t walk, then crawl, but we have to continue to push forward.”
And Brown backed San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s recent comments regarding the state of politics today. “First, I want to say I respect Gregg Popovich so much,” Brown said last month. “Just the comments and stuff he’s made in the media, I respect the hell out of Gregg Popovich for everything he’s said. And I think he has a great relationship with the players so I tip my hat off to him first.”
So, Brown following Bradley’s NBA lead into politics seems only natural, and Boston would surely back a Jaylen Brown/Jayson Tatum ticket whenever their promising basketball careers come to an end.
As for why it took Duritz to make the connection, well, he also attended Cal-Berkeley for a time, and that’s where the Counting Crows began, so he’s all too familiar with Brown. He’s also well-versed in brilliance, having written “Einstein on the Beach,” and his influence on basketball has been immeasurable, as his “Mr. Jones” served as the inspiration for all of Dirk Nowitzki’s clutch free throws. The Golden State Warriors also thought enough of Duritz to invite him to their title celebration.
So, yeah, why not Brown? Round here he’s carving out his name.
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