There’s an old African-American proverb that perfectly describes Jaylen Brown, it goes like this: “You all in the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know what flavor it is.”
Once again, the 26-year-old Boston Celtics star — who is originally from Atlanta, went to high school in Cobb County (Georgia,) and spent one year at Cal Berkeley — has found himself playing the fool in a role he willingly auditioned for. On Sunday, Brown took to Twitter in a failed attempt to somehow support Kyrie Irving as he wrote the word “Energy” on a retweet of a video of a group of Black Hebrew Israelites that showed up outside of Barclays Center in “support” of Irving who was making his return to the court.
What followed was a comedy of errors by Brown that showed us that an athlete who is from where he’s from and grew up around the people he grew up with, went to the university he attended, and plays in a city like Boston, is somewhere between a grown man that needs to read more or a person that’s desperately failing at trying to become the “voice of a generation.”
After Brown’s initial tweet, ESPN’s Bomani Jones added some context to the video that was making its way around social media to help those “outside of the culture” understand what was happening. “And a little help to our Caucasian brothers and sisters: no, these aren’t the dudes from college in purple and gold with gold boots who used to bark and jump around all the time. though I guess some subscribe to both camps.”
Jones was implying that the men outside of Barclays Center were not members of Omega Psi Phi — a Black fraternity — given that they were all wearing Purple and Gold, which are the same colors of the fraternity that’s been around since 1911. It was a true “Two Americas” example, as Black people could immediately identify something that might have puzzled some in White America. Context is always necessary. What happened next, was not. Brown went on to post a “clarification” because he didn’t know the difference between the two groups in the greatest example of “whose mans is this?” to occur in 2022.
“I was not aware of what specific group that was outside of Barclays Center tonight, Brown tweeted. “I was celebrating the unification of our people welcoming the return of Kyrie to the court, first glance I thought it was a known fraternity the (C/Que’s) Omega psi phi (step’n) showing support.” Brown would then go on to tweet random photos of members from the fraternity that he found on the internet as a way to show that his ignorance was acceptable, even though it wasn’t.
“I guess I shouldn’t have limited that tweet to white folks?” replied Jones.
We’re only a little more than a month into the 2022-2023 NBA season and this is the third time that Brown has made a fool of himself. It all started on Opening Night when he took to the mic before the Celtics’ season opener to say some words about Bill Russell — it was a disaster.
Brown looked and sounded like an unprepared child delivering an Easter speech that the youth minister forced them to learn just hours before the service.
“Bill Russell was a great man, but what defined his greatness,” he said. “Who he was as a mentor, a father, a member of his community, and most certainly his eleven championships here in Boston both playing and coaching, but undoubtedly, Bill Russell was a great man for what and who he stood for. During the peak of racial tension in our society, he represented a type of nobility and honor that transcended sports.
“The amount of respect that he receives from his people will live on eternally, and I’m grateful to be able to shake his hand. He was a true champion both on and off the floor, and our gratitude is endless. I started off by saying Bill Russell was a great man; in closing, Bill Russell was the greatest of men in the NBA, this organization, and this world was very lucky to have him. May he rest in peace.”
My description of Brown from that night isn’t a shot at people who struggle with public speaking or athletes who want to use their platforms. It’s about understanding your strengths and weaknesses and knowing what you’re talking about before you open your mouth.
Brown isn’t a good public speaker and should not have been the one to share remarks. His actions of late also do not coincide with the way that an icon like Russell lived his life as an activist, as he was always prepared whenever he spoke due to being knowledgeable on the subjects at hand. DragonflyJonez perfectly summed up the situation in one tweet when he wrote, “Boston man (Brown) who didn’t do his research on group (Black Hebrew Israelites) that was supporting Brooklyn man (Irving) who didn’t do his research on a documentary he posted recants statement. More at 11.”
Just a few weeks ago, Brown found himself looking like “Boo-Boo The Fool” when he went from sticking beside Kanye West as a member of Donda Sports — that’s run by the likes of Antonio Brown — to parting ways with the company only after receiving the public backlash that rightfully comes along with standing by West’s side in moments like this. In each of these situations, Brown has put his foot in his mouth without showing us that he’s learned anything from the last time he was sucking his toes. It reeks of arrogance, ignorance, and the audacity to believe that your Blackness and your ability to fill up a box score are enough to give you a platform that comes along with unlimited forgiveness for making unforced errors.
Athletes have historically hated being labeled “dumb jocks” — especially Black ones. It’s a lazy term assigned to a group of people that screams “We’re just here to be entertained by you, nobody cares what you have to say.” And over the last few years, athletes of all colors and races have shown that they’re more than just physical specimens and have used their platforms to become important voices for society, proving that they won’t just “shut up and dribble.” However, with that comes a responsibility that requires you to not only be knowledgeable of what you speak of but to be accountable when mistakes happen.
Monday morning, Brown addressed his tweets from Sunday to the media at the Celtics shootaround. As usual, it fell flat.
So far, Jaylen Brown has shown us that he’s incapable of both. Because if you can’t tell the difference between The Ques and a bunch of Black Hebrew Israelites “hootin’ and hollerin’” outside of an arena, then you should spend more time learning all of Kool-Aid’s flavors before you start dipping in them.