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Jaylen Brown: “your life has value, so much value”

The Celtics All-Star spoke on recent events in Minnesota.

NBA: Boston Celtics-Media Day Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Most postgame media sessions, particularly those that follow a win in the NBA, tend to carry the same sort of tone, take the same shape. Reporters obviously ask questions about the game — the “how did that make you feel?” cliche doesn’t come up nearly as often as you might think; questions about specific plays, injuries, and in-game trends do.

But after a big road victory on Tuesday night, no one asked Jaylen Brown about the Celtics win over the Portland Trail Blazers. There was no need to, and he had no interest in talking about it.

He didn’t talk about Marcus Smart’s hustle, Jayson Tatum’s return to consistent greatness, or the inherent challenges that come with defending Portland’s backcourt duo. Instead, a noticeably exhausted Brown — who looked dejected as he rubbed his eyes upon being seated for his postgame media session — appropriately took a lone question from The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn regarding recent events in Minnesota. Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed on Sunday by a Minneapolis police officer in the suburb of Brooklyn Center.

His entire response is as follows:

“You’ve got to pardon me. I know we’re here to talk basketball, but I’ve got nothing basketball to talk about. Many main events have recently made headlines in the last week, last month, last years, and at this point, we shouldn’t be pleading or persuading people to see things for what they are. We know what this system is and we know what it’s capable of.

If you’re watching this, listening or tuning in, I just want you to know that your life has value, so much value. But they’re trying so hard to make you feel otherwise. My life has has value. My life had value before I played for the Celtics and it will long after.

At some point, you realize what you’re dealing with, but the power has and always will be with the people.

You gotta stand up and fight. What other solution do we have?

That’s really all I got.”

Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation on Sunday, and upon running his tags, police discovered that he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. When they attempted to handcuff him, having demanded he exit his vehicle, Wright stepped back into his car. He was then shot by officer Kim Potter, who Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon later said he believed accidentally used her gun while trying to use and subsequently discharge her taser. Though the department announced it would conduct an internal investigation of the incident, both Potter and Gannon resigned on Tuesday. It was announced Wednesday that Potter had been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Someone convicted of this charge would face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, as well as a possible fine of up to $20,000.

Brown is undoubtedly one of the NBA’s most thoughtful voices in the never-ending fight against racial and social injustice. That we’re living in a time where he and others can express such poignancy is a marked change already, but it’s also devastating that they still have to, and have had to so often in the last 365 days alone. Last year, Brown drove from Boston to Atlanta, his hometown, to join in peaceful protest of police brutality, one sparked specifically by the killing of George Floyd (which also took place in Minnesota).

“I drove fifteen hours to get to Georgia, my community,” Brown said in May. “This is a peaceful protest. Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community. ... We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK.

“As a young person, you’ve got to listen to our perspective. Our voices need to be heard. I’m 23 years old. I don’t know all of the answers. But I feel how everybody else is feeling, for sure. No question.”

At that protest, Brown carried a sign that read “I Can’t Breathe.”

It has been close to a year since then. It’s sickening to know that nothing has changed.

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