Billy Donovan was an influential coach at the collegiate level with multiple NCAA championships in his career.
To the top of that, he helped Jaylen Brown realize his potential and become an even better player during the time they had together in USA Basketball’s Under-18 team.
“I played on that team, and I was like one of the best players – I probably was the best player there,” Brown said on Zoom video conference with UMass students on Friday, per Boston Herald.
“For some reason he wasn’t trying to play me, and I was trying to figure it out, because I was killing everybody in practice. We were beating everyone by 50, so it didn’t matter, we were going to win the gold medal. But I wanted to play, still. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to watch. I wanted to play.
I was so mad I was crying. But I think Billy Donovan had a big impact on my drive for sure. I’m in the NBA now, and hopefully I have a couple more years now to go, so we’ll see.”
After years passed, it seems Brown finally understood what Donovan was trying to say to him. Boston’s forward wasn’t working hard on the court.
“What he meant by that, I realized as I got older, was that I wasn’t playing to my potential,” Brown admitted. “I was probably the best player there, but I wasn’t applying myself as best as I could.
I was using my talent to beat people, and I could have been outworking them as well. I kind of realized that when I got older, and I realized what that really meant, in terms of who I am and what life is about. Everybody has talent, but talent will only get you so far.”
Donovan, the coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was leading his team to the playoffs this season before the “pause”. At the same time, Brown is averaging 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game with the Boston Celtics this season.
The Celtics are holding the third-best record in the East behind Toronto and Milwaukee.