As the Boston Celtics star prepares to play in London, “hes talking to” Donald McRae about race, the NBA and the deaths among his best friend
Jaylen Brown is one the most intelligent and interesting young contestants I’ve met in years and it seems accessory that, midway through our interview in Boston, he should retell a parable that brings together Martin Luther King and the great American columnist David Foster Wallace.
” We’ve got two young fish swimming one style and an older fish swimming the other path ,” the 21 -year-old star of the Boston Celtics says as he considers the enduring backdrop of race in the United States.” They cross routes and the older fish says:’ What’s up people, how’s the ocean ?’ The two younger fish turned back and looked at at the wiser fish and request:’ What’s ocean ?’ They’ve never recognised that this is what they actually live in. So it takes somebody special like Martin Luther King to understand past what you’ve been embedded in your whole life .”
Three times before his death, Foster Wallace included the parable in one of his most widely-read articles of writing. Yet it carries fresh resonance when said with quiet violence by a young basketball musician who stands apart from many of his contemporaries- to the extent that there have been numerous sections in which an unnamed NBA executive apparently intimated that Brown might be “too smart” for the league or” his own good “.
Brown was the No3 pick in the 2016 NBA draft and now, in his second season with Boston, he is a key figure as the Celtics arrive in London the coming week as the leading team in the Eastern Conference. We’ve already spoken about Brown’s desire to learn new expressions and his interest in journals and chess- while he desires playing the piano and listening to grunge artists from east London. Even more intimately he has relived the deaths among his closest friend Trevin Steede in November. In the two plays after that destroying loss Brown produced inspirational concerts, which he dedicated to Steede.
He has also looked forward to playing in London on Thursday, against the Philadelphia 76 ers, and answered a question as to whether his young Celtics team may become NBA champs in the next few seasons:” Why not this year? People say perhaps we’ll is all very well in two years- but I think we’re good now. Right now we’ve got one of best available accounts in the tournament. I think we could be as good as we want to be. But the more we let people erect our mindset, and start saying two years from now, is the moment “were losing” .”
Last week the Celtics beat LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers 102 -8 8. Excitement and prospect surrounds the Celtics but race still stalks our exchange- and it has echoed hauntingly through Brown’s life.” Racism definitely still exists in the South ,” he says, remembering his youth in Marietta, Georgia.” I’ve suffered it through basketball. I’ve had people call me the n-word. I’ve had people come to basketball games garmented in monkey suits with a jersey on. I’ve had people paint their look black at my plays. I’ve had people shed bananas in the stands.
” Racism definitely exists across America today. Of track it’s changed a lot- and my opportunities are far greater than they would have been 50 years ago. So some people conceive racism has dissipated or no longer exists. But it’s hidden in more strategic places. You have less people coming to your face and telling you certain things. But[ Donald] Trump has shaped it a lot more acceptable for racists to speak their heads .”