Jaylen Brown shares perspective on Celtics fans and Kyrie Irving comments

Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

Jaylen Brown shared his thoughts on the topic of racism and Boston Celtics fans after Kyrie Irving’s comments earlier this week.

Earlier in the week, Kyrie Irving’s comments about hoping his return to Boston for Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs could simply be about basketball, without hearing any racist or insensitive remarks, blew up.

Since then, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge revealed his white privilege and all-around ignorance to one of the city’s longest-running problems with its sports fans, while Marcus Smart backed up Irving’s assertion about experiencing racism and prejudice from the fans of Beantown.

On Friday, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown took his opportunity to address that ongoing conversation. Although he’s only 24 years old, Brown’s perspective that he shared with the media proved to be wise well beyond his years:

"“I think that racism should be addressed, and/or systemic racism should be addressed in the city of Boston, and it should also be addressed in the United States. However, I do not like the manner it was brought up, in terms of centering around a playoff game. It bothers me if the construct of racism is used as a crutch or an opportunity to execute a personal gain. I’m not saying that’s the case, but I do think racism right now is bigger than basketball. I do think racism is bigger than Game 3 of the playoffs, so I want to urge the media to paint that narrative as well.“Because when it’s painted in that manner, it’s insensitive to people who are actually dealing with racism on a daily basis, the constructs and the constraints of systemic racism in our school system, inequality in education, lack of opportunity, lack of resources, adequate housing, affordable housing, adequate healthcare, tokenism, and the list goes on. So I recognize my privilege as an athlete, but once you get to a certain point, nothing that you experience overtakes the experiences that people deal with on a daily basis. So I want to emphasize that as well.”"

Jaylen Brown makes an incredibly poignant statement

This incredibly prudent summation from Brown comes only a few days after NBA arenas around the country witnessed a wave of unruly, racist behavior. From a fan in Philadelphia dumping popcorn on Russell Westbrook to a fan at Madison Square Garden spitting on Trae Young to three Utah Jazz fans verbally harassing Ja Morant’s family in the stands, this topic has been a hot-button issue for the league this week, even if it’s not anything particularly new.

Brown made sure to emphasize how much disdain he feels for incidents like that but offered even more perspective on that conversation as well:

"“I understand the frustration right now. I’ve seen what’s going on in sports and in sporting arenas, the two incidents I’ve seen with Russell Westbrook and Trae Young. And I’m pissed, to be honest. I don’t think we should have to put up with that, and I don’t think that’s okay by any means necessary. But when I look in the media and I see those incidents attached to the frame of racism, yes, I think it’s important to address those situations, but if the topic is racism, I think that those incidents or those belligerent comments don’t compare to what systemic racism is currently doing in our community and has done in the past, so it’s important to frame it in that context.”"

As for the topic of racism in Boston sports fandom, Brown noted that he knows “every Celtics fan in our arena is not a racist” but also said, “however, in Boston, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Brown has been very active and vocal on matters of social justice, equality and Black Lives Matter for a long time now, and it’s not surprising to hear him deliver yet another poignant message that needs heeding.

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