Summer television has been dominated by HBO. The return of the network’s mega hit, Game of Thrones, and the slightly less well-watched, but highly popular Insecure have subsumed national discussion. It’s not flying dragons, but lost in the shuffle has been Jaylen Brown’s Youtube series, “Hone the Pressure, It Makes Diamonds.”
It’s not the first time he’s produced such content. Last year, he released “FCHWPO,” an acronym for “Faith, Consistency, and Hard Work Pay Off” that he also shares as his Twitter handle. Brown features his development in both, but they are distinctly different though the text overlays and a number of the most prevalent characters remain the same. In total, there are ten episodes (four of FCHWPO and six of Diamonds) ranging from ten to twenty minutes.
The biggest takeaway from both series is that Jaylen’s presents himself and other NBA players as people with interests, thoughts, and competencies that extend beyond the basketball court. We’ve pulled together a summary of every episode:
We’ll start here, since the first video in this series was released earlier than the first of Diamonds. The series named after it is a documentary-esque view into Brown’s life, following him through a number of different days in his life as an NBA rookie. It doesn’t follow a real narrative arc beyond that of the chronological events of his actual life.
That is to say, there isn’t a decidedly clear agenda being pushed, which is nice, but the lack of coherent story also makes things a bit difficult to follow. Ultimately, despite its disjointedness, FCHWPO is a fascinating case study in how a person of celebrity stature has chosen to portray his life, in an age where the concepts of branding and public image have never been more highly-regarded, and the tools for projecting a specific persona have never been more prevalent.
Episode 1: Pawn to E4
Episode 1 opens with Brown talking about how excited he was to have played in New York City as a professional for the first time, an energy that then carries him to go to the Celtics practice facility at 4:30am in the morning to work on his game. We then get a quick shot of Brown explaining his routine of visualizing workouts for the day and an overview of what he likes to do after losses- taking his mind off of basketball, generally via chess or music.
The episode progresses with attendance on stage at a YG concert (look for a cameo from Jae Crowder), a voice over of a variety of shots in which Brown describes his growing appreciation for Celtics fans, and an excited reaction to a thrilling close to the WNBA Finals.
The episodes most important moment and perhaps the most important moment of the entire series comes at the 7:40 mark, when Brown shares that he wants to help people see NBA players as humans. He doesn’t say definitively that this is the purpose of his videos, but viewing them as such provides a prism that makes everything make more sense and keeps them from feeling utterly self-absorbed.
Understanding Brown’s goal and the fact that creating these videos is another outlet for him to express himself as something other than an NBA player makes watching the rest of them far more humanizing.
Episode 2: Castling
Episode 2 opens with Brown dancing in the middle of the road, on his way to a Revolution game at Gillette Stadium. It includes his birthday (and a delightful birthday cake scene), a trip to the Madison Park Community Center to celebrate Halloween with a group of older adults, an autograph session, and an appearance at Cheapo Records with musical artist Desiigner.
Episode 2 is perhaps the most dissonant of the series. It simultaneously feels the most like a crafted brand representation of Brown, particularly at the Halloween event, and the closest to capturing the real chaos of being a professional athlete in the public sphere. That makes it both interesting and challenging to digest. I still can’t decide if this was my favorite or least favorite, but it’s definitely one of the two.
Episode 3: King’s Gambit
Episode 3 is the most lighthearted video of the bunch. It opens on Christmas Eve with a visit from Santa in the restaurant that Brown and his family are at. The following scene, in which Brown dances with his grandmother, while his mother explains she was unable to find a Steelers onesie for him, is likely the most endearing moment of the series.
The majority of the rest of the episode is focused on a series of mini-competitions between Brown and teammate Terry Rozier, with brief time committed to practicing in Waltham and a ride on the Zambonis at a Bruins game with Demetrius Jackson. It’s all good fun, and the best look at Brown as the twenty year old he is, enjoying his life with friends and family. If you’re looking for the single, most enjoyable episode to watch, this is probably the one.
FCHWPO Episode 4: C7 Expansion
Episode 4 begins with Jaylen filming a video hit at the CSN studios, then transitions to some brief singing in the car, a raucous panel discussion at what appears to be a school, alongside Brad Stevens and Al Horford, and video game and boxing matches between Brown and his friend Hiram.
The panel discussion is exciting, and the video game matchup includes as much drama as watching other people play video games possibly could, but ultimately the whole thing feels a little flat. Even a promising discussion of Brian Scalabrine’s desire to put together some bars for the next time he and Brown meet, an amazing piece of content in theory, feels a bit forced.
FCHWPO Episode 5: King to E8
Episode 5 is the tightest of the series thematically. The bulk of it focuses on a visit to UC Berkley Brown makes when the team is on the road to play the Golden State Warriors. We meet some of the more influential people from Brown’s year on campus, both in basketball and academics. The only events that fall outside of that motif are a brief workout at the Celtics practice facility and the revelation that the team filled Brown’s car with popcorn which looks like a miserable experience.
Of all of the options, this video is the easiest to watch without context. There is a somewhat clear beginning and end to its narrative,and in that it is a good candidate if you are hoping to watch something as a stand alone experience.
FCHWPO Episode 6: Connected Rooks
Episode 6 opens with Brown on stage at a Gucci Mane concert, before transitioning to him describing an encounter with a quarter-sized spider which he is afraid of. It then moves to time spent with teammates, playing soccer with Guerschon Yabusele, and grabbing food with Jabari Bird.
The soccer scene drags on for a while, which makes for a fairly sleepy episode, but it’s fun to see Brown interact with some of his young peers on the team.
Hone the Pressure, It Makes Diamonds
Diamonds is a far more focused, black-and-white sister series to FCHWPO. It follows Brown through a series of intense summer workouts, including several days during which he claims to be fasting. That seems certifiably insane to me, and the kind of activity that the Celtics couldn’t possibly be alright with, but Brown certainly seems to be in good shape, so more power to him I suppose.
There isn’t much story to this series, but it does introduce us to some of the people that Brown relies on in his training throughout the summer, and there are enough things that happen that make you say wow for it to classify as interesting.
Fair warning: if you don’t exercise, this will only make you feel worse about that fact. I know because I most definitely fall into that camp. I almost went for a run after watching these though, so maybe they can function as a motivator. Seriously I put my sneakers on and everything.
The series’ first episode is as close to an origin story as you get across any of Brown’s videos, though still not really much of an origin story at all. It includes cameos from several individuals that have known Brown for extended periods of time, all of whom highlight the idea that he’s always worked harder than everyone else, a truth reinforced by the shots of him training with them.
The 9:00 minute mark is particularly impressive. Brown runs against a resistance band until the point of exhaustion, and we get to see a moment of physical weakness that was almost unimaginable given the power with which he starts the process.
Episode 2 continues in the same vein as the first, with shaking workout shots and a couple of quick thoughts from Brown inter-spliced. He opens the video talking about how he’s “coming for everyone” and “not afraid of anyone,” and ends it with an explanation that he thinks succeeding in the NBA is at least “ninety percent mental.” It’s an interesting look into his perspective, and perhaps an insight in why he’s chosen to fast.
The highlight of the episode comes in watching Brown work through a variety of ballhandling drills. His handle in his rookie year was sloppy, so to see Brown so focused on improving that part of his game is heartening. Check out the 8:15 mark to watch him dribble two balls against the wall simultaneously. From a basketball perspective, it’s probably the most impressive thing he does in the whole series.
Watching episode 3 isn’t entirely necessary, particularly if you are starting to get a bit of workout video fatigue. It does include one of the funnier moments of any of the videos in either series though. At the 20:11 mark, Brown talks about being in the lab, “trying to create Einstein,” which is later corrected to Frankenstein. He gleefully laughs at himself in this moment, which proves to be endearing. It’s great, but you don’t have to watch the whole video leading up to it to enjoy it.
NBA player cameo alert: episode 4 includes visits from Jimmy Butler, Stanley Johnson, and Brown’s former teammate James Young, including several bits of actual game (scrimmage) footage. It’s the most exciting part of the episode by a considerable margin, though not the only thing of note.
Episode 4 takes the wildest artistic turn of the series when it incorporates several scenes worth of color video. They cover a trip to Venice beach to kind of play pickup, and a shot of Brown looking at the ocean and sarcastically wondering if Kyrie Irving is on to something with his flat Earth theory. Things return to black-and-white as the video resumes its focus on more serious training. It’s all a little bit clumsy, but the general concept is appreciated.
All in all, episode 4 is the most watchable of the options. That’s doubly true if you’re a fan of watching jump shots. Brown knocks home an impressive number of open three-pointers through a series of scenes of different shooting drills.