Jaylen Brown came up huge for the Boston Celtics last night (Nov. 16) in their big-stage game against the Golden State Warriors, and he did so a day after the death of his best friend.
According to ESPN, “Brown said he wasn’t certain he’d play Thursday and even told Celtics coach Brad Stevens he didn’t think he could play so soon after the death of childhood friend Trevin Steede.”
Brown did decide to play, and he played a big role in Boston’s win over the defending national champs. Not only did Brown play inspired basketball but he ended up leading the Celtics in scoring with 22 points. He also had seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals (one steal led to this highlight).
When the final whistle was blown, Boston managed to erase a large deficit in the second half, and won by the score of 92-88.
More from the ESPN article mentioned above:
Brown said a phone call from Steede’s mother convinced him to play in his friend’s memory.
“My best friend passed last night. It was tough to kind of accept it,” Brown said. “Everybody was kind of in shock. But I knew coming into today that he would have wanted me to play. It was hard getting my thoughts together, but after talking to his mom and his family, they inspired me to come out and play.
“I wasn’t in any shape to come out. I didn’t want to leave my room. But they inspired me to come out and play. And I came out and played in his spirit today. My teammates held me up and we pulled it out.”
The victory over the Warriors was impressive for a couple of different reasons: (1) Golden State is arguably the best team in the league (they have made three straight NBA Finals appearances, and have taken home the championship hardware in two of them). (2) Boston has now won 14 games in a row. They also have the best record in the NBA at 14-2.
After winning seven games in a row, this loss has pushed Golden State’s record to 11-4 on the season. At the time of writing, the Warriors are second in the Western Conference standings as they trail the Houston Rockets by 0.5 games. Boston currently has a three-game lead in the Eastern Conference.
Brown posted the following tweet in honor of his friend.
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 17, 2017
In what was an amazing moment, Kyrie Irving looked for Brown after the game.
“Ky gave me the game ball and said, ‘This one was for Trevin,’ ” Brown said. “That meant a lot to me.”
Said Irving: “I knew from the start of the game. I gave him some great words that was given to me. I’ve lost individuals in my life. It’s never a good thing when someone else is going through it. You do your best to console and to encourage them, but at the end of the day, it’s about the strength within themselves and he showed a lot of that tonight, to be able to go out there and perform the way he did, I knew exactly where the game ball was going to.”
Irving joined the Celtics in the offseason via a blockbuster trade. While the emergence of Brown (he’s only playing in his second year, and was drafted No. 3 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft) is a big reason why Boston has gotten off to a hot start, acquiring a player as gifted and talented as Irving certainly doesn’t hurt.
Irving scored 16 points in the contest and added on six assists. Al Horford also came up big with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Warriors’ Kevin Durant led all scorers with 24 points.
According to ESPN, “Brown detailed Thursday how the two met in high school and were fast friends.”
“[Steede] tells this story all the time: I transferred schools to play basketball at Wheeler High School. He was already there. And they transferred me in,” Brown said. “Ultimately, I was probably taking his spot, but I remember I didn’t have any friends sitting at the lunch table. The first few days I sat by myself and acted like I’m too cool, I didn’t need anybody. You know what I mean? Like, I’m an introvert. I’ll be all right.
“And he walked up to me on the third or fourth day and asked me who I was sitting with, even though I wasn’t sitting with anybody. And then he told me to come over and sit with him. And ever since then we’ve been best friends. For him to do that even though the circumstances, ever since then that’s been my brother, you know?”
Needless to say, Brown played inspired basketball on Thursday night, and it led to him entering the spotlight in a major way (and the Celtics earning their best win of the season).
While a lot has to play out now until the NBA Finals begin, many fans believe this contest — the one between Golden State and Boston, that is — is a preview of what’s to come in the 2018 NBA Finals.
Next up, the Celtics will play the Atlanta Hawks on the road on Saturday, Nov. 18. Boston has not lost since Oct. 18. This squad started off 2017-18 with back-to-back losses, and star Gordon Hayward also went down via a gruesome injury at the start of the season.
Since then, the Celtics have turned into, quite possibly, the best team in the league.
“To be honest, it just felt like nothing,” he said, when asked about what it felt like to be on court. “Like I just felt I was out there playing, like I didn’t know who was out there. I just felt like it was me and him. I was just out there playing, and I wasn’t thinking. I was just getting up and down the floor.”
Brown’s breakout season has led to him averaging 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Per the boston.com article mentioned above:
“All we can do is pray for his family and the memories of him and the light that he spread while he was here,” he said. “I felt like he was with me here tonight.”