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The best of Jaylen Brown – before, during and after Opening Night

Brown was electric against the 76ers, but the way he carried himself before and after the game might have been more impressive

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown glides to the hoop against the 76ers on Tuesday.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always been about more than basketball for Jaylen Brown.

That was clear when the Celtics drafted him, and it’s more obvious than ever in recent years.

As smooth and as powerful as he is on the court, he embodies those traits even more elsewhere.

It’s easy to tell how much Bill Russell meant to all Celtics players, but it’s evident he left a particularly strong impression on Brown.

Both are dreamers, thinkers and doers, and Brown expressed how much Russell continues to inspire him daily even though he’s no longer here.

Brown scored 35 points in the Celtics’ 126-117 win over the 76ers on Tuesday, but his most important contribution of the night came when he honored Russell pregame and postgame.

The fact that he opted to give a pregame speech said a lot in itself. The way he did so said even more.

He noted afterward that he put significant thought into his what he would say, often scrapping the page entirely and starting fresh.

“How do you figure out a group of words that encapsulates what Bill Russell’s legacy meant to me, to the city and to so many others?” Brown said afterward. “It was tough to find the words. Tonight was a special night, and it was amazing to be able to play in his honor.”

Brown described Russell as someone who was “much taller than he was in person,” because of what he stood for and what he represented. No one will ever come close to matching Russell’s legacy with the Celtics, but Brown is continuing the tradition admirably and with poise and purpose.

His humility was on display after the game as well. Even after shooting 14-of-24 from the floor, and dazzling in transition all night, Brown said he believes he could have played better.

“I don't think I played a great game,” he said.

The crazy part is, he’s not wrong. Brown was electric, but he really only had his B+ or A- game. Fortunately for the Celtics, his B+ or A- game is better than most people’s A+ game. His dominant showing felt insignificant in the grand scheme, though.

Even when questions postgame were about other topics, Brown organically and sincerely veered them back toward Russell.

Not all superstars – yes, he’s a superstar – understand that it’s about more than themselves. Celtics fans shouldn’t take his unselfishness for granted.

He turned in a spirited and true-to-himself performance – before, during and after the game – that would make his idol proud.

“It was just unique and special,” Brown said. “I’m happy that we both came out and performed, and we got the win, but it feels a little bit better knowing what, and who, we were playing for.”

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