Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had effusive praise for fourth-year wing Jaylen Brown, who drove 15 hours to his hometown of Atlanta on Saturday to take part in a protest in response to the killing of George Floyd.
"Jaylen's greatest impact, as good as he is at basketball, won't be in basketball," Stevens said in a press conference Tuesday, according to The Boston Globe's Nicole Yang. "He's a special guy. He's a special leader. He's smart, but he has courage. He's got a lot of great stuff to him. I think we recognized that when we drafted him."
"I certainly am not surprised by him taking a leadership role," Stevens added of Brown's involvement in Saturday's demonstration. "That's who he is."
Brown has made an impact well beyond his years since the Celtics selected him third overall in 2016. He has spoken on several occasions about the importance of education. In 2019, he became the youngest member of the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee, serving as vice president.
Ahead of the 2016 draft, one NBA executive opined that the Cal product might be "too smart for the league," according to The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears.
To that point, Brown's apparent intellect and other intangible qualities have not hindered his on-court growth. Still only 23, Brown has averaged 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists across 272 career appearances; he pushed those rates to career highs of 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game in his breakout 2019-20 campaign.