Celtics' Jaylen Brown delivers thoughtful statement about Kyrie Irving's comments, racism in Boston

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(Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving caused a stir ahead of Game 3 between the Nets and Celtics, his first appearance in front of the TD Garden crowd since leaving Boston for Brooklyn during the 2019 free agency period.

After the Nets' Game 2 win on Tuesday, the seven-time All-Star told reporters that he was hoping to avoid any "belligerence or racism" from fans. That sparked a conversation about the history of racist incidents involving both visiting athletes and those who have played for Boston teams.

MORE: Celtics' Tristan Thompson has strong thoughts on bad fan behavior

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who played for the team from 1981-89, claimed during a Thursday appearance on WBZ-FM's "Toucher and Rich" that he had never heard any complaints of racism from a Boston player in his time with the organization. Later that same day, Celtics guard Marcus Smart said that he had been the target of racist comments from fans. He also previously wrote a piece for The Players' Tribune in October in which he described a fan calling him a racial slur outside TD Garden.

Friday night, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown decided to offer his perspective on Irving's comments and his experience in Boston. Brown, who is out for the rest of the season after undergoing wrist surgery earlier this month, spoke for more than four minutes and did not take questions from reporters.

Here is Brown's full statement:

I have a perspective to share. I've kind of seen the things floating around with Boston and the topic of racism. People around me urged that I should share my perspective. I have not talked to anyone — Kyrie, Marcus or Danny Ainge — about my thoughts or my perspective, but I do think it's a good conversation. I think that racism should be addressed, and/or systemic racism should be addressed in the city of Boston, and it also should be addressed in the United States.

However, I do not like the manner it was brought up, in terms of centering around a playoff game. It bothers me if — the construct of racism, right? It's used as a crutch or an opportunity to execute a personal gain. I'm not saying that's the case, but I do think racism right now is bigger than basketball, and I do think racism is bigger than Game 3 of the playoffs. So I want to urge the media to paint that narrative as well, because when it's painted in that manner it's insensitive to people who are actually dealing with racism on a daily basis: the constructs and the constraints of systemic racism in our school system, inequality in education, lack of opportunity, lack of resources, adequate housing, affordable housing, adequate health care, tokenism and the list goes on. So I recognize my privilege as an athlete. Once you get to a certain point, nothing that you experience overtakes the experiences that people deal with on a daily basis. So I want to emphasize that as well.

I understand the frustration right now. I've seen what's going on in sports and in sporting arenas with the two incidents, obviously with Russell Westbrook and Trae Young, and I'm pissed, to be honest. I don't think we should have to put up with that, and I don't think that's OK by any means necessary. But when I look in the media and I see those incidents attached to like a frame of racism, yes, I think it's important to address those situations. But if the topic is racism, I think that those incidents don't compare, or those belligerent comments don't compare to what systemic racism is currently doing in our community and has done in the past. So it's important to frame it in that context.

I think that racism — I think that not every Celtics fan, I know that every Celtics fan in our arena is not a racist. We have people of all walks of life, ethnicities, colors, that are die-hard Celtics fans. So I think by painting every Celtics fan as a racist would be unfair. However, Boston, we've got a lot of work to do, no question. The incarceration rate is ridiculous. The wealth disparity is embarrassing. The inequality in education, specifically in Boston public schools, needs to be better. There's a lack of resources there, lack of opportunity. The tokenism here in Boston needs to be addressed as well. But if we're going to talk about it, and that's what the media is going to bring up, I think a sporting arena, things might exist. But in the real world things exist to far different extremities. So I definitely wanted to share my perspective. And this is my opinion, of course, and people can challenge that. I definitely think, Boston, we've got a lot of work to do.

But that's it, really. I'm not really answering any questions, guys, I just wanted to share my perspective. Thank you.

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