Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown wants to win more than championships after inking the richest deal in NBA history.
On Wednesday, minutes after he did a ceremonial signing of the contract that will keep him a Celtics uniform and pay him a record $304 million over five years, he made it clear the next stage of his basketball career is about more than money.
“I appreciate the investment and the commitment from the Celtics,” Brown told reporters. “That commitment will be felt from me here in Boston on and off the floor.”
Though Brown has been eligible for the supermax extension since July 1, he said he felt the contract negotiations were straight forward throughout the process.
“From my standpoint, they understood where I came from, they understood where we came from and it was all about meeting in a place where it made sense for everybody,” Brown said.
Asked what he plans to do with the generational wealth that comes with his new deal, Brown said he wants to launch a project to bring “Black Wall Street” to Boston and do his part to help close the racial wealth disparity in the city that’s been his home for the past seven years.
Black Wall Street was the name given to a district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was one of the most economically affluent areas for Black Americans during the early 1900s before it was destroyed during the 1921 race massacre.
“There’s analytics that support that stimulating the wealth gap is something that could be a betterment for the entire economy,” Brown said. “With the biggest financial deal in NBA history, it makes sense to talk about one, your investment in community. But two, also the wealth disparity here that nobody wants to talk about. … It’s something we can all improve on.”
Brown hopes that by starting new initiatives in Boston he can play a role in creating new jobs, resources and businesses to stimulate the economy and gaps he’s observed working through his 7uice Foundation.
It’s why he held Wednesday’s news conference at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, site of 7uice’s Bridge Program, which is focused on promoting science and technology education among underrepresented minority communities in high schools.
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said Brown’s motivations are exactly why the organization felt comfortable making the long-term investment it did.
“It’s not just about a contract or money or playing basketball. It’s about making a difference in life,” Grousbeck said. “That’s what Jaylen embodies to me and to my partner Steve (Pagliuca) and others and to all of us here at the Celtics. He’s a true Celtic. He’s a Celtic for years to come.”
Grousbeck said Brown’s philanthropic goals go hand in hand with the team’s hopes that Brown will one of the catalysts in its quest to win an 18th NBA championship.
“This is the next step to that,” Grousbeck said.
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said the fact that Brown included the students involved with his foundation speaks to the kind of person he remembers meeting when Boston drafted him third overall in 2016.
“From the moment Jaylen’s gotten here it’s been about growing. It’s been about getting better. It’s about tackling every challenge,” Stevens said. “I think that is a great separator when you’re talking about a player, when you’re talking about a teammate, when you’re talking about a person want to be associated with and have a long-term relationship with.”
Brown said he’s ready for the expectations that will come on the court with his new deal.
“I look at life as stages and degrees,” Brown said. “Everything that I went through throughout my career has prepared me for each stage. … I don’t shy away from pressure. I know what the demand is. I know what the expectation level is. And I know the work that is required. Everything about me is about work. So I look at it as just another challenge.”
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