Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics is glad NBA owners made the promises they did in regard to the social justice movement, but he’s also not so sure they are going to honor them. Tim Bontemps of ESPN said Brown talked to the media on Saturday, the same day the league returned to action, and said he was worried the ownership group would go back on its word at some point.
“I’m not sure,” Brown said on a video conference call.
“I can’t speak for everybody. I can only speak for myself, and I am not sure. I’m not as confident as I would like to be, I’ll say that. I think promises are made year after year. We’ve heard a lot of these terms and words before. We heard them in 2014 — reform. We’re still hearing them now.”
He added that a lot of the pledges that have been made to Brown and other players have been the same. He said the league is just reshaping those plans and recycling them.
Brown said there are some who are trying to encourage incremental change because it will take too long to really affect anything. He added that “they” also say reform over and over again and then nothing is ever reformed.
Bontemps said Brown has long been one of the more vocal members of the NBA when it comes to social justice. After the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, he drove to his native Atlanta and led a Black Lives Matter protest. He’s also spoken out many times about the kind of changes he’s looking for in the United States.
When the Milwaukee Bucks decided to sit out Wednesday’s Eastern Conference Semifinal game, Brown reportedly took the opportunity to ask his teammates whether they were going to fight for changes in their communities. He is said to have asked them that if the postseason was canceled for good, would they just leave the bubble and go home or would they starting leading protests?
One reason Brown thinks the owners will go back on their word is that he thinks they already have to some extent, regarding opening arenas as voting centers.
“Initially, when we went into those discussions with the board of governors, every arena was supposed to be the case, not just arenas that were owned by the team that we play for,” Brown said.
He added that he thinks every arena needs to be open as a voting center because he believes voter suppression is very real. He said by having those areas open and ready to use, anyone who felt like they were being disenfranchised would have recourse this November.