Great Expectations

The bar is set high for the Boston Celtics’ second-year guard Jaylen Brown. What you didn’t expect is that he’s the one who put it there. The rising star shares what he’s learned from his first NBA season and how he’s continuing to grow in life and style.

Words by Good Counsel

Portraits by Justin Bridges

Video by Justin Bridges

The expectations have always been high for twenty-year-old Jaylen Brown. No sweat—the Boston Celtics’ prized, second-year guard lives by a “no pressure, no diamonds” philosophy that has prepared him to contribute right away for the winningest franchise in basketball history and one of the winningest teams in sports, period. Stepping into that legacy—under the tall shadow of 17 championship banners—Brown stands taller, not necessarily because of his physical frame but because of a maturity that’s evident from the moment he speaks. Describing his hometown of Atlanta as a proving ground, Brown has found a deeper appreciation for it now that he’s away. “I’ve always loved Atlanta, it’s very competitive—everyone is trying to be the next anything, but I’m just trying to be the next me. I was immersed into things, learned to deal with adversity that grew me up at a young age.” 

Brown credits his mother for providing his unshakeable foundation and ever-growing sense of purpose, “My motivation comes from my mom... she raised two, African-American males—I’m 6’7 my brother’s 6’4’—she did an amazing job and she did it virtually alone. I just want to give back to her because I know it wasn’t easy.” A year removed from attending school at the University of California, Berkeley Brown’s self-assurance should not be mistaken for overconfidence. Jaylen has put the work in and his self-run YouTube channel has the in-the-middle-of-the-dark practice sessions to prove it. Simply put, “Faith, consistency, hard work—pays off.”

Of equal value to any of his on-court skills is Brown’s self-awareness, a sixth sense that consistently reminds him of where he’s been and where he’s going. When it comes to fashion, it’s been a longtime interest that’s just beginning to present itself as another opportunity for growth. “I don’t really know when I developed it or when it hit me… I’ve always been into clothes. I didn’t always have the financial means to get what I wanted but I was always a window shopper.” Brown thumbs through racks with the know-how of someone who’s indeed studied his options. He’s been wearing John Elliott, Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, Alexander McQueen—and while his comfort-zone palette is black, Jaylen confidently checks off colors, earth and neutral tones that work for him or that he’s willing to try: olive, taupe, brown, rose. He settles on a Celtic green, Saint Laurent Paris varsity jacket with cognac leather sleeves, layered over a white John Elliott Mercer Tee and signature Cast 2 jeans. Brown thinks hard about what shoes should finish it off. It’s a split decision between Del Toro’s suede boxing sneaker and a suede jodhpur boot with an antiqued gold side-zipper that just feels like it adds the right weight to everything. “There are things I might not be comfortable with but there are things I wasn’t comfortable with last week and I’m here today.” Measuring himself up, Jaylen goes with the boot, deeming himself ready for something different than he’s used to.

“It’s all about growth, it’s all about experience, getting outside the box and thinking like there’s no box at all—to me, there isn’t.”  Jaylen Brown’s drive has always been to find his own path. In that way, basketball has literally been a key that has unlocked doors and opened up a new worldview. “Boundaries don’t keep people out, they fence people in. Basketball has given me the opportunity to travel the world and I’ve seen so many fashion statements. I’ve been to four, five different parts of the world this year and it was common too—taking extremely high, luxury things and dressing them down. Taking something considered to be so luxury and making it casual, making it an everyday thing—that mindset in general I admire a lot.”

"Everyone's trying to be the next anything, but I’m just trying to be the next me."

For Brown, finding the right balance in style depends on perspective. Versatility is important over the course of the year that demands as much of him off-court as it does on it. “You have so many outings— media sessions, a game, on the plane—a bunch of different ways and a bunch of different times—many times—when you need a fit… it’s a long season. I might wear a sportcoat and I might wear some sweats, I mix it up—but however I feel per day is what I might wear.”

Reflecting on his first year in the league and heading into his sophomore season, Jaylen is ready to take his menswear interests to the next level. The learning that’s taken place and his own expectations for himself shine through. “It’s about experimentation… can’t always find it off the rack… but now I have a good basis, knowing the do’s and don’ts for myself. I’m in a really comfortable place where I know where to get stuff from, I have a budget that I can work with… now it’s about my own style and partnering with brands that match my perspective.”