The three Boston Celtics players along with Vincent Poirier have led protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, and continue to inspire with their leadership.
Many NBA scouts didn't want to take Jaylen Brown because they were afraid of his potential. Not his potential on the court, but rather off it. They believed that he cared about other things more than he did about basketball.
He was labeled "too smart".
The Celtics had no problem with that. When they drafted Brown third overall in 2016, they knew they were getting a great basketball player, but also a great person. Someone who was going to make an impact. Brad Stevens, the Celtics head coach recently said about Brown, “Jaylen’s greatest impact, as good as he is at basketball, won’t be in basketball. He’s a special guy."
While many professional athletes are staying home and staying silent — or in Major League Baseball's case, refusing to play for less money in a time when millions of Americans don't have a job at all — Brown has stepped up.
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, protests have sparked all over the country. Brown said in a video on social media that "Being a bystander was no longer acceptable", before announcing that he would be leading a protest in his hometown of Atlanta.
"I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community," Brown said. "This is a peaceful protest. Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don't exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I'm a black man and I'm a member of this community. ... We're raising awareness for some of the injustices that we've been seeing. It's not OK."
Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers was with Brown in Georgia. He said, "I got brothers, I got sisters, I got friends that are in the streets, that are out here, that haven't made it to this level, that are experiencing it -- that are getting pulled over, just discrimination, day after day, dealing with the same bull----. This is systematic."
Brown was not, and is not alone though. Joining him in protest in Georgia was fellow NBA star Malcolm Brogdon, and rapper lil Yachty. Other NBA players that have been on the frontlines in protest include Celtics players Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter, and Vincent Porier. Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, Tobias Harris, Karl-Anthony Towns, Justin Anderson, and Josh Okogie are just some of the protesting players.
Enes Kanter has become very well known for his humanitarian efforts, so it shouldn't be surprising that he has been active as well. He attended a protest in Boston, and gave a speech that can be seen below:
And of course, Marcus Smart was not to be undone. The gritty, hard working Celtics guard joined Kanter and Vincent Poirier at the Boston protest. Here is a statement from him:
What these guys are doing is amazing. As a culture, we need more of our leaders stepping up, and going onto the front lines. This says a lot about them as people, and a lot about their convictions. It shows how passionate they are on and off the court. I believe you need people like them to be successful both in terms of basketball and real life. I am proud to have them on the team that I support.