For Better – or Worse – the Boston Celtics Have the Highest Paid Basketball Player Ever
Remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer and his friend Mickey can’t decide who should date whom on a double date, then Mickey marries his pick, and as they leave the church, she turns to Kramer and says she actually wanted him? That’s kind of how I feel knowing that Jaylen Brown is now the longest-tenured and highest-paid Boston Celtic.
This week, Brown signed a “supermax” extension with the C’s worth north of $300 million dollars, making him the highest paid basketball player ever. Not just the highest paid Celtic – the highest paid player of the sport in its history.
Richer than Michael Jordan. Richer than Shaquille O’Neal. Richer than Air Bud.
In theory, this is what you hope for when you draft a player – that he’ll be so good, you’ll be happy to pay him the most money ever. But let’s look at the first part.
Brown is not the best player on the Celtics, never mind “ever.” That would be Jayson Tatum, when he’s not dabbling with his new “healthy” candy company. And when Tatum got hurt in the team’s last game of the playoffs this year, Brown…didn’t shine.
Soon after, a change was made. But instead of Brown being on the move, it was fan favorite and “heart” of the team, Marcus Smart. Red Auerbach’s biographer, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, opined just days before the trade that Smart was the one guy Red would never trade.
And then, we get into the personal side of Jaylen Brown. While very active in the Boston charitable community and adamant about his plans to pursue his brilliance in engineering, Brown’s done some kinda dumb stuff as of late.
It got ugly when he stood by former teammate and most-hated Celtic ever Kyrie Irving, when Irving sure seemed to endorse antisemitism. This wasn’t lost on folks who knew Auerbach. Said Shaughnessy:
“(Brown) presents as somewhat antisemitic in my view and I’ve not seen anything to shoot that down when given opportunities. He’s been given opportunities to renounce the Kanye thing (NOTE: Brown eventually - but slowly - departed an agency run by Kanye West agency in the wake of the rapper’s own tirades against the Jewish community.) He won’t do it, and he’s never really expressed a love to be in Boston.”
(To hear my full interview with Shaughnessy on the Celtics' offseason and his book about covering the Larry Bird C's, CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.)
On the other hand, Brown's lukewarm embrace of Boston as a city isn't necessarily without merit. While comedian and Peabody native Gary Gulman, himself Jewish and whose wife is Black, described antisemitism as "disgusting and infuriating," he added:
"Boston has been so unwelcoming to young African-American athletes over the years that you could see where somebody could be negative in their feelings towards Boston fans and rebelling against white fans...Why can't he just hate white people? Why does he have to hate Jews?"
(To hear my full interview with Gulman, CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.)
After more than two decades passed between Larry Bird and Paul Pierce hanging championship banners up in the rafters next to the elusive Boston Garden monkey, the Celtics now have the highest paid player in the history of basketball.
But he still doesn’t quite feel like The One. Maybe that’s the Celtics’ thinking "get him under contract so when The One becomes available, he and Brown can swap places." Just like Kramer and Mickey should've done.