Rookie small forward Jaylen Brown has continually turned heads during his short tenure with the Boston Celtics, combining a lethal athleticism with a gumption not typically associated with a first-year player. He plays with a forceful grace on the court and showcases unique intellect off it. Brown took graduate-level courses during his one year at California-Berkeley, is noticeably thoughtful with his words, and unsurprisingly, fashions himself on being an avid chess player.
“I kind of compare chess to the game of basketball — making the right reads, making the right decisions,” Brown told me back in June while in Phoenix for a pre-draft workout. “I kind of consider myself the king and everyone else [are] pawns.”
A certain self-confidence oozes from Brown’s voice, and that mindset contributes to every move he has made both on and off the court early in his career. He has clear ambitions and takes it upon himself to be in control of the path his career takes.
While most prospects entering the league look to hire an agent because that is typical protocol during the pre-draft process, Brown decided to go against that route and elected to represent himself.
“I did my process, I interviewed a few agencies, did my due diligence, and I just didn’t feel like I needed the services they [offered],” Brown told the Boston Globe. “I just felt like I didn’t really need one. I had a good group of mentors who gave me pretty much the resources that I needed, so they made me feel like I actually didn’t need one.”
Unlike generations past, today’s NBA sports structured rookie deals are dependent upon the draft slot in which a player is selected, meaning that the first overall pick earns the most with salaries dwindling with each passing pick. Because of this, the negotiation process between a player and the team that drafts him is not as strenuous as it once was, making the bargaining prowess of an agent far less valuable to a player that does his due diligence such as Brown.
Rather than rely on the services of an agent to run all aspects of his career, Brown has chosen to hire consultants to handle specialized issues that he does not have experience in. For example, Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports was hired by Brown to put together his shoe deal with Adidas.
“I wanted to figure out what I could handle and couldn’t handle, then I could put somebody in the spot where I needed the most. I haven’t had the need for somebody to just do everything. I believe in specialization,” Brown told the Boston Globe.
“I believe people are really good at some things and I don’t believe that everybody is really good at everything. I think I was the highest pick to ever be drafted without an agent.”
Brown’s outlook on the business of basketball is refreshing for such a young player. Instead of sticking to the status quo and succumbing to the temptation of hiring an agent because that’s just what people do, he evaluated the situation and put his own twist on it.
Pursuing his basketball career without representation is admirable in its own right, and could potentially lead to a ripple effect for future incoming draftees that take the time to educate themselves. If nothing else, Brown’s voice should empower other players.
“Explore your options,” Brown told the Boston Globe. “Understand that you can speak for yourself and you can advocate for yourself. You don’t need somebody in every aspect to do that for you. If I want anybody to learn [something] from my draft experience, it’s to think for yourself.”