Examining the beef between Jaylen Brown, Billy Donovan

Rob Bradford
May 18, 2020 - 12:28 pm

It was a small comment that led to big things.

It was something that made Jaylen Brown mad, yet still helped make Jaylen Brown.

Billy Donovan's message to Brown when the current Celtic was playing for Team USA as a 17-year-old was unexpected, pointed and is something the forward said he still hangs on to each and every day.

In a Zoom call with UMass students (unearthed by the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy), Brown explained when Donovan told the former Georgia high school star that he would be out of the NBA in three years due to what the coach perceived as a less-than-adequate work ethic.

"He told me he wasn’t playing me because he said I didn’t play hard," Brown said on the call according to Murphy. "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,'” Brown said. “I was so mad I was crying. But I think Billy Donovan had a big impact on my drive for sure. I’m in the NBA now, and hopefully, I have a couple more years now to go, so we’ll see."

Brown, who is in his fourth season in the NBA and signed a four-year, $115 million deal prior to the 2019-20 campaign, said while he was able to use Donovan's words for valuable motivation, he still had some animosity toward the OKC coach. Before the coronavirus-induced hiatus, Brown was averaging 20.4 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

"I’m not cool with him to this day," Brown said. "For someone to say that was a lot for a 17-year-old. I appreciate the message he delivered, and to this day I kind of think about it, because that message was added to my work ethic."