Jaylen Brown was one of the most mysterious high-level prospects to break into the NBA in the last five years. The Boston Celtics guard played for Cal Berkeley, a school that hasn’t made waves in the NBA since Jason Kidd, yet one of the most fascinating stories is about his intellect, rather than his play.
Brown explained how during his draft workouts and interviews an NBA executive saw him as “too smart” — something the front office suit viewed as a negative.
“That was true,” Celtics star Jaylen Brown told Bleacher Report on the YouTube series Take It There with Taylor Rooks. “I don’t know why the exec thought that it would be a bad thing.
I think that when athletes are also informative, it might intimidate people, for whatever reason. LeBron and KD with the whole Shut Up And Dribble movement, it was a big push in our generation because athletes still have to push back in society for their outside interests and I feel for this generation that I’m a part of now, I feel there’s a movement going on and I’m a part of that movement.”
Teams often value attributes besides size, wingspan, and athleticism. Virtues like basketball IQ, competitiveness, motor, and work ethic are often taken into account during the scouting process and the consequent interviews after team workouts.
Yet general intelligence should be another positive trait, as it will likely affect an athlete’s decisions more than any other attribute might during an entire career. Yet it is that same intelligence that got players to bargain for 50% of basketball-related income, bigger paydays, and free-agent movement — things some owners weren’t too happy with complying.
In an era where a player’s decision can often make or break the fate of a franchise, some executives can be too intimidates by a player’s smarts or “wokeness,” which likely counted against Brown, though wrongfully so.