When Celtics public address announcer Eddie Palladino delivers pre-game introductions, he typically says the player’s college, number, and name.
Wednesday night, when he introduced the Detroit Pistons, Palladino offered a unique twist with a local flavor.
“From Boston, No. 6, Bruce Brown,” Palladino said, and the crowd cheered.
Brown takes a significant amount of pride in the fact that he grew up on the Dorchester-Mattapan line and attended Wakefield High School. Whenever he comes home, the second-year guard is invigorated to play in front of friends and family.
This time around, he helped the Pistons hold Kemba Walker to 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting in a 116-103 Detroit win. Brown started the game and finished with four points, three rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block, no turnovers, and was plus-seven in 24 minutes of action.
“I go out there and play hard like I usually do, just try to block out that extra noise and focus on the game,” Brown told Boston.com. “It’s normal now. Last game, it was hectic, but now it’s cool.”
Both Brown’s role and numbers have ballooned in his second season. His scoring is up from 4.3 points as a rookie to 8.9 this year, and he’s also averaging 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists while often locking down the other team’s best guard.
He’s been a bright spot all season and has caught the eye of head coach Dwane Casey.
“He’s a big part of our future,” Casey said.
As far as Brown’s NBA career takes him, he’ll always have his Boston and Wakefield roots. He attended Wakefield High for two years, through the METCO program, and he sharpened his skills with the Warriors before transferring to Vermont Academy. Brown woke up early to commute from Boston to Wakefield every morning and took the train back at night. It was tough at first, he said, but he got used to it.
Brown grinned as he pulled out his custom-made sneakers that rep Wakefield and Dorchester. The red, black, and white colors, the Warrior logo, and the “DORCHESTER” in white lettering above the heel show how grateful he is for his roots.
Bruce Brown Jr. has custom-made sneakers that rep Dorchester and Wakefield. pic.twitter.com/boRMYpGm74
— Trevor Hass (@TrevorHass) January 15, 2020
Whenever he comes to Boston, he stays with his Wakefield friends. They call themselves the Wakefield Dogs and have a highly-competitive fantasy football league. This was Brown’s first year in the league, and he’s somewhat embarrassed to admit he came in last place.
“I don’t like to speak on that,” he said, when asked how many wins he got, before clarifying that he did win some weeks and his team was decimated by injuries. Most of his buddies were there to watch him play Wednesday. He said he had 60 or 70 fans the first time he played in Boston. This time, he wasn’t sure exactly how many were there, but he speculated there could have possibly been as many as 40 or 50.
Brown feels more at ease now, and it’s less of a stress-inducer playing here, but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
He remembers coming to a game as a kid, around age 8 or 9, when one of his idols, Kobe Bryant, battled the Celtics.
“It was on that side,” he said, pointing behind him toward the rafters, “in the nose bleeds. That was one of the last times I came to the Garden. I said next time I come to an NBA game, I’m going to be playing.”
How about them Red Sox!!!! @RedSox
— Bruce Brown (@BruceBrown11) October 29, 2018
That vision essentially unfolded how he hoped it would.
In addition to Bryant, Brown grew up watching and idolizing Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, and Paul Pierce. He even tried to tweak his jumper so the ball was on the side of his face like it was when Rondo shot. That phase didn’t last long, he clarified.
Out of everyone on the Celtics, Brown said he knows Marcus Smart the best. He used to try and jump into Smart’s workouts in Miami, hoping to soak up some knowledge from a player people often compared him to.
Brown, too, prides himself on dominating on the defensive end. He knows his offensive game is a work in progress, but he’s OK with that, because he sees himself improving daily. He said he tries to consistently make the right play, like Smart does, and he’ll live with the results.
“He loves to compete,” teammate Tim Frazier said of Brown. “That’ll take you a long way.”
Never forget where you came from..!!
— Bruce Brown (@BruceBrown11) May 21, 2018
On the first play of the game Wednesday, Walker shook Brown and buried a 3 from the top of the key. A few possessions later, Brown fought to get around the screen, and this time he recovered to alter the shot and force a contested miss.
“Kemba busted my ass all year last year,” Brown said, acknowledging how difficult Walker is to slow down. “I watched a lot of film on him in the summer.”
When Daniel Theis blocked his shot in the third quarter, Brown stuck with the play, scooped the ball up, and kissed it home for two. He’s not afraid to make mistakes, and he knows he can be a catalyst when he plays with poise and effort.
With Reggie Jackson out, Brown has had to play more point guard, and he’s thrived in a different role. Those who know him well believe he has everything it takes to continue to flourish.
Said Casey: “He’s growing right before our eyes.”