What is The Moment? It can be defined as a lot of different things, depending on who you talk to. NBA rising star Jaylen Brown compares it to the game of chess, which his grandfather taught him to play when he was four years old.
“[Chess] is such a symbolism for life to me,” the Celtics forward says in a video he shot with College Park rapper Gunna for Champs Sports (above). “Because life is all about the decisions and the moves that you make. The moments.”
One of the first major decisions Brown faced came as a teenager. At 16, he had the opportunity to leave his native Marietta, Georgia to spend time in Treviso, Italy. The trip wound up representing a liminal moment in his young life, as it granted him a completely new perspective on the world, from the foreign foods he tasted to the culture he experienced.
“It just made me question whether the way I'm living, the way my family and the people around me live, is the correct way,” he recalls. “Can we do it different?”
Although Brown didn’t know it at the time, the European getaway would play a pivotal role in helping him decide which college to attend. A 5-star recruit coming out of high school, Brown received scholarship offers from the nation’s leading basketball programs, but ultimately chose to take his talents to Cal-Berkeley and play for Coach Cuonzo Martin.
“Picking a school for [its] name is so silly to me,” he says. “I could’ve went to a Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, or Duke, but I took visits there and they just didn’t do it for me. I wanted something more, you know? And when I went to Berkeley, I found myself.”
Who is Jaylen Brown exactly? Aside from being a professional baller, he’s an avid reader, loves to write poetry, and is a burgeoning piano player. Unable to pay for lessons growing up, Brown spent the money he received from his first paycheck on buying a keyboard. Since his rookie season, the 21-year-old has been teaching himself how to play, and even has a Grand Piano in his Boston apartment.
“Music is just a part of me; I think it's a part of everybody. [It] just makes you feel different once you find something you like,” he says. “I love it.”
“I been hiding from the spotlight because in my nature I don't think I'm that type of guy… It's something that I've worked on. It’s helped make me a better leader.”
Most of us know Brown for his prowess on the court, as the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, a lock-down defender, and a crucial member of the Boston Celtics’ improbable 2018 postseason run. With frontline players Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving sidelined due to injury, Brown seized the moment, giving his opponents the business while averaging 18 points-per-contest during the playoffs.
“I been hiding from the spotlight because in my nature I don't think I'm that type of guy. I was walking around observing everybody, people watching.”
“It's something that I've worked on,” Brown continues. “It’s helped make me a better leader; being able to converse and not being afraid of the moment. Now I feel like my voice should be heard, so I speak.”
His newfound leadership and confidence on the court show, and in turn, have dramatically changed the perception basketball fans and analysts’ have of Brown as he enters his third professional season. He’s transformed from potential bust to untradable, future all-star. Naturally, expectations for Brown, and his youthful, loaded Celtics squad, have skyrocketed heading into the 2018-19 season (playing in a strikingly weak Eastern Conference). But Brown is doing what he can to tune out the chatter.
“I'm not sure what the perception of Jaylen Brown is… but to be honest, I could care less,” he says. “The only thing I care about is how [I perceive] myself.”
It’s a message that Brown lives by, and he encourages others to do the same. Because once you start worrying about what other people think, it can be paralyzing.
“A lot of times, people try to fit in or blend in to try to be something they’re not because it’s cool,” he says. “Be the best version of you… be unapologetically you.”
With Brown showing tremendous promise on the court, he’s certainly enjoying a moment right now. But given his talent, work ethic, and numerous passion points outside of basketball, it would seem that Brown has a diverse array of moments still ahead of him.
To discover more about what constitutes “The Moment” for both Jaylen Brown and College Park rapper Gunna, watch the video above. And be on the lookout for adidas’ “Collegiate Burgundy” pack, now available exclusively at Champs Sports.