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‘You represent the future’: 4 takeaways from Jaylen Brown’s community-driven press conference at MIT

“The world is changing. I’m proud to be a part of that change.”

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
Jaylen Brown and Derrick White embrace after Game 6 against the Heat.
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

With Celtics brass to his right, Olympian John Carlos to his left and a sea of students sporting bright pink “Bridge” t-shirts behind him, Jaylen Brown connected all parties as he signed the largest contract in NBA history.

Brown bridged the gap between the past, present and future Wednesday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As much as this event was about celebrating Brown the basketball player, it was far more about celebrating Brown the person and all he plans to do now that he’s inked his five-year, $304 million extension.

“You guys being here is special for me,” Brown told his campers. “You represent the next generation. You represent the future. Everything I do is to try to make this world a better place.”

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He’s putting his money to use.

Brown plans to launch a project to bring Black Wall Street to Boston and attack the wealth disparity. He plans to stimulate the economy, invest in the community and help the city become fully integrated.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I think we’re all on that same journey,” Brown said.

He said he was with his students in the middle of a robotics session on Sunday when the deal finally materialized. Brown put his phone down and got right into class that day.

As for the location of the press conference, Brown said it “just happened to fall like that.” He said everyone would have liked to get the deal done sooner, but this immersive experience made sense logistically, and he thought it was fitting.

Founded by Brown, The 7uice Foundation partners with institutions, organizations and social change leaders to bridge the opportunity gap for youth in traditionally underserved Black and Brown communities. This summer, Bridge has organized a multi-day camp at the MIT Media Lab to focus on STEAM-related opportunities and other areas.

Brown said money isn’t everything, but it does create an avenue to build something monumental.

“It gives my life and my meaning so much more purpose,” Brown said. “... The world is changing. I’m proud to be a part of that change.”

The Celtics are thrilled with both the person and the player.

Brown said the talks with the Celtics “went great,” adding that the pre-existing relationships allowed them to have normal and direct conversations.

“From my standpoint, they understood where I came from, understood where we came from,” Brown said. “It was all about just meeting in the place where it made sense for everybody. I’m glad we were able to finish it.”

Brad Stevens, Joe Mazzulla, Wyc Grousbeck and Stephen Pagliuca dished plenty of praise Brown’s way, crediting both the person and the player for his desire to be great.

“From the moment Jaylen got here, it’s been about growth,” Stevens said. “It’s about getting better. It’s about tackling every challenge. It’s about if things go really well for you that day, working hard the next day so you can be a little better.”

Mazzulla said he’s the type of person who’s made him better and made people around him better. Pagliuca added that the goal is to collectively make Boston and the world a better place with Brown as a driving force.

Grousbeck said they spent the most time Sunday talking about Bill Russell and how to continue to honor him moving forward.

“Ever since I met Jaylen seven years ago, I’ve been completely blown away and impressed by his intensity, his commitment, and his passion,” Grousbeck said. “It’s not about him, it’s about other people.”

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They did discuss some basketball.

Brown emphasized the importance of consistently bringing defensive intensity this season and beyond. He said it starts with him and Jayson Tatum, and he also mentioned Kristaps Porzingis as a catalyst in that area.

“With Marcus gone, we don’t want our defensive identity to go out the door as well,” Brown said.

As expected, Brown said “of course” when asked if this Celtics team has what it takes to win it all.

He said he’ll miss Smart, noting that they “butted heads” and “put each other in headlocks” at times, but that it was all love. Brown called him “a brother” and said Smart will still be with them spiritually as they continue their journey.

“This journey won’t feel the same without him, to be honest, but it’s a part of life,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, he claims to have not received any sort of FaceTime from Grant Williams or Robert Williams – contrary to what they said on social media – but he made it clear he plans to give them a call later in the day Wednesday.

“Never, never, never,” Brown said, when asked if he was too cool to chat with them now. “Those are my guys.”

Brown said his phone blew up more than ever before earlier this week, but he’s excited to shift the focus elsewhere and get back to business.

He embraces the added pressure.

Brown believes everything he’s experienced at each stage of his career has prepared him to enter this new phase of his life, with even more weight on his shoulders.

At the same time, he knows he’s not on the journey alone, and he plans to continue to lean on those around him.

“That pursuit of excellence never changes,” Stevens said. “I think that’s a great separator when you’re talking about a player, talking about a teammate, and talking about a person you want to be associated with.”

Brown said he doesn’t feel as though anyone has seen his best yet. He knows what the demand is, and he’s eager to reach that pinnacle individually and as a team.

“I don’t shy away from pressure,” Brown said.

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