Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving didn’t always see eye-to-eye. When Irving lashed out at his younger Celtics teammates, Brown was often the one who pushed back.
But they’ve become close in recent years. At the onset of the pandemic, Irving reached out to Brown, and explained how he was feeling during the end of his Celtics tenure.
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They’ve spoken regularly ever since.
“He reached out to me, kind of let me know what his experience was when he was in Boston, what he was feeling,” said Brown in a new Ringer profile. “And I understood what he was going through personally. So, life is a journey. We all got ups and downs. And most of all, we don’t always handle everything in the perfect media-appropriate demeanor. Kyrie, one thing about him, he going to be who he is. I appreciate that.”
Irving addresses his polarizing exit from Boston, and change of heart about re-signing. He tells the Ringer’s Logan Murdock that losing his grandfather made him feel alone in a new city.
“I lost my grandfather my second year in Boston, so it was my first time really losing someone close like that to me, other than my mom and my grandmother when I was young,” said Irving. “So me being in Boston, not being home, not having that emotional support, I really felt alone, even though I wasn’t alone. So I didn’t really connect with everybody as much as I should, and I didn’t open up as much as I should.”
Though Brown and Irving didn’t connect in Boston, they’re in lockstep now. When the Nets suspended Irving for tweeting out a video with antisemitic tropes — and refusing to apologize — Brown, vice president of the NBAPA executive committee, was one of his staunchest defenders.
At one point, Brown even tweeted support for an antisemitic group protesting Irving’s suspension in front of Barclays Center (Brown says he thought the group was a member of the Black fraternity Omega Psi Psi.)
“That’s my job as vice president of the union,” said Brown. “The union is supposed to be an entity to protect the players, especially their rights and their freedom of speech. I feel like what the Brooklyn Nets did—I still feel the same way—it was inappropriate.”
Irving credits Brown with being one of his biggest supporters.
“He was one of the main ones that really stood beside me,” he said.
While Brown’s bond with Irving is secure, his relationship with the Celtics isn’t. Brown, who’s in the midst of a career season, said “we’ll see” when asked whether he wants to stay in Boston long-term.