Jaylen Brown unveils Billy Donovan’s unfiltered NBA warning when he was 17
Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown was in the midst of a breakout season before the NBA season was postponed last March. The former No. 3 overall pick was scoring a career-high 20.4 points while also grabbing 6.4 rebounds per game and shooting an efficient 49.0 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from deep.
Brown has used his strong work ethic and natural athleticism and talent to become one of the league’s brightest young stars at just 23 years old. However, it is worth noting that for a while, the Celtics star wasn’t so highly thought of.
Despite being a top-five player in the class of 2015, Brown recalled a moment in his high school career when then-University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan gave him some extra motivation to be the top-caliber of player he is today.
A part of the USA’s U-18 basketball team (which Donovan coached), Brown spoke to a class at UMass via a Zoom meeting about how that experience changed his life.
“I played on that team, and I was like one of the best players — I probably WAS the best player there,” Jaylen Brown said, per Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. “For some reason he wasn’t trying to play me, and I was trying to figure it out, because I was killing everybody in practice. We were beating everyone by 50, so it didn’t matter, we were going to win the gold medal. But I wanted to play, still. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to watch. I wanted to play.”
With that said, Brown went to Donovan — now the coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder — to ask about his playing time.
“He told me he wasn’t playing me because he said I didn’t play hard,” the Celtics youngster furthered. “I said ‘what do you mean, I’ve been cooking everybody.’ And he told me you’re only going to be in the league for three years because you don’t play hard.
“And instantly I was emotional. I was 17 years old. I was like, ‘what do you mean? I’m the best player here. I’m cooking everybody.’
“What he meant by that, I realized as I got older, was that I wasn’t playing to my potential,” he said. “I was probably the best player there, but I wasn’t applying myself as best as I could. I was using my talent to beat people, and I could have been outworking them as well. I kind of realized that when I got older, and I realized what that really meant, in terms of who I am and what life is about. Everybody has talent, but talent will only get you so far.