Jaylen Brown has experienced negative treatment from Celtics fans as a black athlete in Boston, he told the New York Times, but the 26-year-old tries to “pretty much block it all out.”
“It’s not the whole Celtic fan base, but it is a part of the fan base that exists within the Celtic nation that is problematic,” Brown said. “If you have a bad game, they tie it to your personal character.
“I definitely think there’s a group or an amount within the Celtic nation that is extremely toxic and does not want to see athletes use their platform, or they just want you to play basketball and entertain and go home. And that’s a problem to me.”
Brown, who has spent the entirety of his seven-year NBA career with the Celtics, becomes the latest athlete to speak out about his experiences in Boston, with Lakers star LeBron James calling it “racist as f–k” in a July 2022 episode of “The Shop.”
Hazel Renee, wife of Warriors forward Draymond Green, also posted on Instagram last year about the “f–k you Draymond” chants that rang through TD Garden during the 2022 NBA Finals, when Golden State defeated Boston, 4-2, and clinched the title on the road.
She called the behavior from Celtics fans “very disgusting,” adding that her children were at the game and heard the disturbing chants.
“They will say anything,” James said on “The Shop” episode. “And it’s fine. It’s my life, f–k I’ve been dealing with it my whole life. I don’t mind it. I hear it. If I hear somebody close by, I check them real quick, then move onto the game. They’re going to say whatever the f–k they want to say.”
In 2021, former Nets guard Kyrie Irving — who spent two seasons with the Celtics — told reporters that he hoped Boston fans would avoid anything involving “racism” and “belligerence” when the Nets traveled to TD Garden for their playoff series.
“I think that not every Celtics fan — I know that every Celtics fan in our arena is not a racist,” Brown told reporters that day, per ESPN. “We have people of all walks of life, ethnicities, colors, that are die-hard Celtics fans. So I think painting every Celtics fan as a racist would be unfair.
“However, Boston, we’ve got a lot of work to do, no question. Incarceration rate is ridiculous, the wealth disparity is embarrassing, the inequality in education specifically in Boston public schools needs to be better. There’s a lack of resources there, lack of opportunity. The tokenism here in Boston needs to be addressed as well.”
Brown, who has averaged a career-high 26.8 points per game this season and helped the Celtics remain one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, also spoke with the Times about activism and the “multiple experiences” of being a professional basketball player, a regular civilian and an entrepreneur — or just someone trying to “do things in the community” — in Boston.
“There’s not a lot of room for people of color, black entrepreneurs, to come in and start a business,” Brown said. “I think that my experience there has been not as fluid as I thought it would be.”