Celtics wing Jaylen Brown is currently one of seven vice presidents of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), along with Andre Iguodala, Bismack Biyombo, Malcolm Brogdon, Kyrie Irving, C.J. McCollum and Garrett Temple. Chris Paul has served as the NBPA’s president since 2013.
In a new profile of Brown in GQ, the NBPA’s executive director, Michele Roberts, said she anticipates that the 24-year-old Brown -- who became the youngest-ever member of the PA’s executive committee when he was first elected to it two years ago -- will someday be the PA’s president.
“Right now he is as engaged as Chris. … The guy is special,” Roberts told GQ. “He’s probably going to be president of the PA at some point.”
Roberts recounts Brown’s leadership in the Orlando bubble this summer, particularly after the shooting of Jacob Blake and the players’ strike that followed.
The strike began with the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to take the court for a playoff game against the Orlando Magic. In a players’ meeting that followed, players on several other teams expressed frustration with the Bucks for not alerting them to their plans or coordinating a league-wide action.
Brown was the one who diffused the tension, though, stepping up to say that he supported the Bucks and that it didn’t matter what went into their decision. That helped get everyone on the same page moving forward.
“I felt obligated to let Milwaukee know that I understood why they made the decision they made, and I didn’t need that explanation from them,” Brown said.
Social justice initiatives had already been an important part of the NBA bubble even before the Jacob Blake shooting, and Roberts credits Brown with coming up with a significant chunk of the ideas that wound up being implemented. She doesn’t specify exactly which ideas were his, but some of the more noticeable initiatives for viewers were having “Black Lives Matter” printed on the court and anti-racism slogans on the backs of jerseys.
“Fifty percent of what we ultimately landed on came from Jaylen,” Roberts said.
A few months earlier, while the NBA was shut down due to the pandemic, Brown -- along with fellow NBA players Malcolm Brogdon and Justin Anderson and rapper Lil Yachty -- had helped lead protests in his hometown of Atlanta after the murder of George Floyd.
Celtics teammate Enes Kanter told GQ that watching Brown step up inspired him to get out and march in Boston.
“I’ve been in the league for nine years,” Kanter said. “I have not seen many people take off-the-court stuff this serious.”
It’s that kind of leadership that has so many confident that Brown will continue to be not just a great leader in the PA when it comes to basketball matters, but also off the court.
“He’s gonna make change, like real change, and he’s not just there to talk,” former teammate Isaiah Thomas told GQ. “He’s there to be part of it and to keep speaking about things so they don’t go unnoticed. It amazes me because he’s doing this at such a young age, and nobody’s telling him to do it. This is him. This ain’t no P.R. move, this is none of that.”