The NBA season, as you all know, is 82-games long.
The operative word in that sentence being "games." Because that's what these basketball contests are at the end of the day: games.
The casual fan may not know that though, considering how the game is dissected nowadays or how a loss is the end of the world (see: Charles Barkley saying the Boston Celtics' season was over after opening night). Look no further than how social media has taken over and every move (or non-move) of every player is insanely scrutinized.
There are rivalries. Battles. Records. Streaks. But, there's one thing we often forget: pro athletes are people too. They have lives. They have good days and bad, ups and downs.
Like we all do.
Boston Celtics second-year stud and potential future all-star Jaylen Brown unfortunately knows that all too well. The day before arguably the biggest game of this still young season, a matchup to see whether Boston's 13-game winning streak would extend with a W over the defending world champs, the Golden State Warriors, Jaylen received gut-wrenching news.
His best friend since transferring to Joseph Wheeler High School (Marietta, GA.), Trevin Steede, had passed away.
As someone who's tragically lost a friend (at the hands of a drunk driver), I can attest to how hard it is to want to face the world after such a loss. Suddenly, an important business meeting is rendered meaningless. Worrying about the bills or a break-up doesn't mean a thing either. Surely, a basketball game -- again, emphasis on "game" -- doesn't mean jack either.
No one can blame Jaylen, but hours before tip-off last night, he didn't know if he could suit up.
It was hard kind of getting my thoughts together, but after talking to his mom and his family, they inspired me...I wasn't in shape to come out. I didn't want to leave my room. But they inspired me to come out and play, and I came out and played in his spirit today. My teammates helped me up, and we pulled it out.
One of those teammates was Kyrie Irving. Ironically dubbed "Uncle Drew," Kyrie has quickly become family with this new group of Celtics.
Jaylen: "Ky gave me the game ball and said this one was for Trevin. That meant a lot to me.”
Irving: "The energy that your best friend was carrying is still with you, so don’t you ever forget that. He showed it tonight."
In the aftermath of losing a close friend, an introvert like Jaylen Brown would be expected to close off the world, not show up under its brightest lights. But that's precisely what he did -- he showed up big time -- playing his heart and soul out in honor and in the spirit of his beloved like-a-brother friend.
Yes, Jaylen played last night. He played to escape. He played for his friend. He played to bring back any semblance of normalcy he could, even for a few hours. He was the catalyst of a monstrous 19-0 run in the third quarter last night. And, when it was all said and done, he had 22-points, 7 rebounds and a couple blocks and steals.
Most importantly, Jaylen helped get a win for his boy.
It just felt like nothing. Like, I just felt like I was out there playing. Like I didn't know who was out there. I just felt like it was just me and him. And I was just out there playing. And I wasn't thinking.
Perhaps he was thinking of this day while out on the parquet:
It's sadly ironic, but I'm reminded of a tweet Jaylen sent out less than a week ago.
The answer, Jaylen, is no. Ideas, like our loved ones, can live on forever if we work hard enough to keep them alive.
From myself and the entire CelticsLife.com family, we offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Trevin Steede. We know he'll be guiding Jaylen and all of those he loved from above.