Former Bear Jaylen Brown earns first NBA All-Star nod following breakout start to season

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Jaylen Brown putting on a show isn’t news for Cal basketball fans. Throughout the 2015-16 college basketball season, the former Bear regularly fired up Haas Pavilion with his explosive play and emphatic dunks. Still, now in his fifth season as a Boston Celtic, Brown continues to make Cal fans proud in the pros. This weekend Brown will be putting on a similar kind of show; this time as an NBA All-Star.

On Tuesday night, Brown was officially named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his 5-year professional career. Brown was selected alongside Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum, Brooklyn’s James Harden, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, New York’s Julius Randle, Chicago’s Zach LaVine, Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic as the eight Eastern Conference reserves, as voted on by NBA coaches. Ultimately, votes from the fans, players, and media ranked Brown fifth overall among Eastern Conference guards, a ranking bested only by elite players Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Zach LaVine.

This recognition highlights the huge leap Brown made this season. This year, Brown is averaging 25 points per game — up nearly 5 points from last year — placing him at 15th on the NBA scoring list. What might be even more impressive are Brown’s shooting percentages; the Cal alum is shooting nearly 50% from the field and 39% from 3-point territory, an impressive feat given his increased offensive usage and production.

Brown has been one of the few consistent players this season for the Celtics who find themselves struggling this season with an unsatisfactory .500 record of 17-17. The Celtics haven’t been at .500 this far into a season since 2015-2016, which was in the middle of their rebuilding process. Part of the reason for Boston’s struggles has been the strangeness of the current times, as they found themselves dealing with a handful of COVID-19 issues this season, at one time even missing their young star Jayson Tatum due to virus protocol. In the five games without Tatum in the lineup, Brown went on an offensive tear, averaging 29.4 points per game while also shooting 44% from 3-point range.

After a narrow loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 22, which marked seven losses in their last 10 games, Brown noted the reality of the situation.

“I don’t feel very much like an All-Star,” Brown said. “I think this is the most I’ve lost since I’ve been here as a Celtic. We’ve got to find ways to win.”

Despite the Celtics’ struggles, this year’s All-Star game is especially significant for Brown and not just because it is his first. This year, the game is located in Atlanta — 20 miles away from Brown’s hometown of Marietta.

“It would mean a lot, especially being in Atlanta,” Brown said.

The 5-day break will give Brown some much-needed time to step back, relax and gear up for the second half of the NBA season.

Brown continues to improve his game year after year since departing from Berkeley. Whether it be in Berkeley’s Haas Pavilion, Boston’s TD Garden or the 2021 NBA All-Star Game venue, State Farm Arena, Cal fans know what to expect from Jaylen Brown — nothing short of an all-out show.

The 2021 NBA All-Star game will be televised on TNT this Sunday at 5 p.m.

Conner Parker covers rowing. Contact him at [email protected].