Jaylen Brown has been a member of the Boston community for seven years since the Celtics selected him at No. 3 overall in the 2016 NBA draft.
And through that time, Brown has experienced living in the city, but not only as a professional athlete showered with praise by the faithful Celtics fanbase. While Brown has succeeded in his pro basketball career, earning a handsome four-year, $106.3 million deal with the C’s, he’s also undergone some unfavorable experiences in Boston.
Brown detailed some noticeable challenges that he’s encountered throughout his tenure in Boston.
“Even being an athlete, you would think that you’ve got a certain amount of influence to be able to have experiences, to be able to have some things that door open a little bit easier,” Brown told the New York Times last Sunday. “But even with me being who I am, trying to start a business, trying to buy a house, trying to do certain things, you run into some adversity.”
While Brown sports a Celtics uniform on a night-to-night basis, the 26-year-old is well aware that the embracement that he’s received is far from the reality of others who visit. In fact, on occasions, Brown himself has faced a snippet of the wrong side of Boston sports rivalry.
“It is a part of the fan base that exists within Celtic nation that is problematic,” Brown said. “If you have a bad game, they tie it to your personal character.”
Visiting players, beyond the NBA and most prevalent among Black athletes, have shared negative experiences in Boston throughout the years, creating a poor stigma for the city.
Most notably with in-game enemies such as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, a select group of fans have misconstrued the entitlement tied to purchasing a ticket at TD Garden.
Back in 2012, during the Eastern Conference Finals, one fan poured beer on James as the then-Miami Heat star made his way to the players’ tunnel in Boston. Fast forward nine years later and a nearly replicated incident occurred when Irving, while also walking off the court and to the tunnel, had a water bottle thrown his way by a Celtics fan.
Such instances, which aren’t unfamiliar within stadiums across the United States, further gaslight the negative narrative attached to the experience of a Black professional athlete when stepping foot in Boston territory.
“I definitely think there’s a group or an amount within the Celtic nation that is extremely toxic and does not want to see athletes use their platform, or they just want you to play basketball and entertain and go home,” Brown said. “And that’s problematic to me.”
Brown, who hasn’t shown restraint when speaking on deeply passionate social issues, serves as an NBPA vice president — which he was re-elected to — alongside Celtics teammates Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams.
Though, as Brown acknowledged, this select group doesn’t represent the entire fan base, it’s not up to them or anyone else to invalidate the experience of players across the league who either represent or cross enemy lines in Boston.