Celtics' Jaylen Brown 'Not Sure' About NBA Governors' Promises on Social Justice

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 30, 2020

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) loses the ball as he drives to the basket against Orlando Magic forward Wes Iwundu (25) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown is uncertain that NBA governors will back their pledges to help players in their social justice efforts.

"I'm not sure," Brown said on a Zoom call Saturday, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps.

"I can't speak for everybody. I can only speak for myself, and I am not sure. I'm not as confident as I would like to be, I'll say that.

"I think promises are made year after year. We've heard a lot of these terms and words before. We heard them in 2014 -- reform. We're still hearing them now. A lot of them are just reshaping the same ideas and nothing is actually taking place. Long-term goals are one thing, but I think there's stuff in our wheelhouse as athletes with our resources and the people that we're connected to that short-term effect is possible as well."

He also expounded on his point about the lack of progress that has taken place in recent years despite calls for change.

Brown mentioned the year 2014, a pivotal year for the NBA. Of note, the Los Angeles Clippers protested after then-owner Donald Sterling was caught making racist remarks in a recording. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league.

Brown added:

"Everybody keeps saying, 'Change is going to take this, change is going to take that.' That's the incrementalism idea that keeps stringing you along to make you feel like something's going to happen, something's going to happen. People were dying in 2014, and it's 2020 and people are still dying the same way. They keep saying 'reform, reform, reform,' and ain't nothing being reformed. I'm not as confident as I would like to be."

Later in 2014, players around the league wore "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts in honor of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black man from Staten Island, New York, who died after police put him in a banned chokehold.

Brown was in high school then, and that year marked a pivotal moment for him as well following a teacher's offensive comment toward him:

Sean Grande @SeanGrandePBP


In the present date, the NBA and NBPA put out a statement Friday outlining a three-point plan to further social justice initiatives, including forming a social justice coalition, converting team arenas owned by NBA governors into voting facilities and including advertisement spots designed to promote greater civic engagement as well as informing people about the issue of voter suppression.


Joint NBA and NBPA statement: https://t.co/EFp6fG9oZs

Brown has taken issue with the point about team arenas, making the case that all of them should be open and available as voting facilities rather than those just owned by league governors.

"Initially, when we went into those discussions with the board of governors, every arena was supposed to be the case, not just arenas that were owned by the team that we play for. Every arena needs to be open. Voter suppression is real. I don't understand why that's a problem or that's an issue. But every arena should be open, it should be available in access to be able to have people of color, disadvantaged people to feel like they can vote."

Per Bontemps, a handful of NBA teams have committed to using their arenas as voting sites, including the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Hornets and Utah Jazz. The same goes for the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.