Celtics

Jaylen Brown criticizes media narratives surrounding Jayson Tatum and himself

"It’s sometimes fascinating to me to see such an urgency to pit us against each other."

Jaylen Brown Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics talks with Jaylen Brown. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Jaylen Brown heard all the chatter about himself and Jayson Tatum this offseason, and the Celtics’ star wing sounds tired of it.

Speaking to the media following Wednesday’s practice in Boston, Brown criticized reports that he and Tatum don’t get along.

“It’s sometimes fascinating to me to see such an urgency to pit us against each other at times,” Brown said.

Brown and Tatum have an interesting relationship — two top-five picks and two All-Stars who are expected to carry the franchise into the future. The duo had little prior connection outside of AAU tournaments, but they were quickly pushed to the forefront of the Celtics’ rebuilding efforts.

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“It’s definitely grown a lot,” Brown said of his relationship with Tatum. “I think it’s centered around respect. I think there’s a respect there. Jayson respects my work ethic. I respect his. We both put a lot into this game. Regardless of what I do off the court or what people think I do off the court, I put my energy and my heart and soul into this game.

“So I think our relationship is built around respect. I respect Jayson. I think he’s one of the best players in this game regardless of 25-and-under or over, and I think he can be one of the best players when it’s all said and done. I think the same about myself. So I think respect is what the relationship is centered around.”

During the summer, Brown and Tatum connected in Las Vegas following Tatum’s gold-medal victory with Team USA. Whether or not they intended to dispel rumors, a viral photo taken of Brown biting Tatum’s gold medal at a club helped shift the predominant narrative that the two players don’t mind each other but aren’t particularly close.

“I think the media likes to dichotomize things and put one thing against the other like it has to be a Batman and a Robin,” Brown said. “Or one guy and the other guy can’t be whatever. We’re just two guys that can hoop. …

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“The media wants to kind of sometimes write the story that pulls us apart. But we talk a lot. We don’t let it bother us. We hear a lot of the things, comparisons, etc., but at the end of the day I want the best for him, he wants the best for me. Regardless of everybody saying of what everybody’s saying that we can’t coexist and we don’t play well together or whatever. I enjoy playing with Jayson. I really do. He’s a guy I trust out there to make plays.”

New Celtics coach Ime Udoka has little doubt that the duo can coexist.

“Guys need to appreciate each other — sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have right next to you,” Udoka said. “That’s something I’ll stress to them, but I don’t think it’s a question of can or can not they play together. It’s been proven what they’ve done when they’re healthy and together on the court.”

To Udoka’s point, Tatum and Brown were two foundational parts of the team that made a precocious run to the Eastern Conference Finals during Tatum’s first season, and they were the two best players on a team that did the same in the Disney World Bubble in 2020. Udoka has repeatedly called them both foundational pieces in his comments throughout the preseason.

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For his part, Brown said both he and Tatum trust and appreciate each other already.

“Sometimes that’s not always easy to find” Brown said. “We kind of started our careers together, we’ve won a lot of games here in Boston together at an early age, which is rare. …

“I just try to come out and be a better version of myself. I want the best for my teammates and I want the best for myself as well. So we just take that one day at a time.”

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