WALTHAM, Mass. -- There's plenty of trouble that a 19-year-old freshly minted millionaire could find during a rare break from NBA training camp. But, on this weekend night, Boston Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown is sharing a piano bench with Jae Crowder's young daughter, Jada, fumbling his way through nursery rhymes.
"She was showing me a few things," Brown said Monday after Crowder shared some of the video on Instagram. "I’m still learning. I was playing the simple stuff like 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.'"
Brown has quickly endeared himself to Crowder -- and for reasons beyond being able to interact with his daughter. Crowder finds himself fascinated by the maturity of Brown, the No. 3 pick in June's draft who will make his preseason debut when the Celtics meet the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at UMass-Amherst's Mullins Center.
"He’s everything that I wanted to be at that age," said Crowder. "He’s very mature, beyond his years. He’ll have a conversation with you about anything. I like that, personally. I don’t always want to talk about basketball. I want a guy that I can go be at home with and just chill and talk about anything. He loves music, just like me. He’s into music, he makes beats and stuff like that. I just wanted to get to know him a little bit more."
Before having even played his first official NBA game, Brown can namecheck Crowder and fellow Marquette product -- and Chicago Bulls All-Star -- Jimmy Butler as his mentors. After spending part of his summer with Butler after the two were introduced by a mutual trainer, Crowder has taken Brown under his wing in Boston and wants to put him on a path to becoming an impact player in the league.
"Us just talking to him and taking him in, it’s big for him. I think he knows that," said Crowder. "He’s aware of it. I was telling him, 'You hanging around with Jimmy is the right thing. When I saw you do that, I knew you were on the right path, because Jimmy is a great worker.' If he’s going to work, then all the rest of that stuff kinda plays itself. I think us being in his corner is going to help him out a lot."
With veteran Gerald Green sidelined early in camp because of a hip flexor injury, Brown is the top backup behind Crowder at small forward. Brown has showcased the same raw athleticism that attracted the Celtics to him, and considers himself lucky that Crowder has taken an interest in molding him.
"Jae Crowder, he’s like my big bro," said Brown. "I hung out with him a lot this weekend, and he’s been pulling me aside [in practice] and talking to me. He’s a great dude. I appreciate him for being around and giving me advice. A lot of times people don’t reach out to do that, especially for somebody in my position. For Jae Crowder to be such a mentor and a person that’s just super cool, man -- it’s like, instantly, he’s one of my favorite people to deal with."
Added Brown: "[Crowder has] been around the league for a long time. I feel like you can learn a lot from anybody. I could learn a lot from Avery [Bradley], I can learn a lot from Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas. But Jae Crowder, because he does play my position and he’s from Georgia as well, so we kinda see things in the same light. It just makes it that much more surreal. He actually played for my same AAU team back in the day. So we have an even bigger connection like that. We kinda see eye-to-eye and he's a good dude."
Here are some other highlights from our Q&A with Brown (edited for clarity and length):
How is it going getting acclimated in Boston?
Brown: It’s going pretty well. I'm getting used to the city. Now I just gotta get used to the weather. It’s a big change from California. It’s starting to get a little cold. I gotta get a new wardrobe and things like that. I’m getting adjusted pretty well.
How does it feel to be getting ready for your first preseason game?
Brown: It feels like a part of the plan. It’s exciting. It’s definitely something to be happy about. I wake up every day doing what I love to do. I love to play basketball. So it’s a great feeling to know that they’re paying me to do this.
What was it like to be part of the David Ortiz retirement celebration on Saturday night at Fenway Park?
Brown: Super cool, man. David Ortiz is almost like a superhero. The type of love that he gives and everything, the positivity that’s around him -- a lot of people admire him and respect him. He’s helped a lot of people’s lives out. To see him and see what he’s done for the city and for his community and for his country has been great. Getting to meet him and sharing some of that positive energy was a blessing for me.
We talked about your relationship with Crowder, what's your relationship with Butler?
Brown: Another good mentor of mine. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of mentors in my life that just have been good people and hard workers. Jae Crowder is one of them, Jimmy Butler is one of them. [Butler is] one of the hardest-working people I’ve known. His routine -- he really taught me what it meant to have a routine and to be efficient and to have everything organized and things like that. Because he has everything organized in his orchestration. He’s been a great mentor to me, a great person. I appreciate him for helping me out.
Any rookie chores here in Boston yet?
Brown: Nothing too crazy, man. Simple stuff. And I don’t mind paying my dues. It’s like getting some towels for everybody in the locker room. Or Isaiah will tell me to get him some -- he’ll wait until I sit down -- then he’ll tell me to get him a Gatorade. I can do that; humbling yourself is not a problem.
You started summer league with No. 9 then changed to No. 7 when Jared Sullinger departed. Any reason for choosing that number?
Brown: It’s one of my favorite numbers. I think it’s a spiritual number, a divine number. That’s why I chose it. I had a lot of options. I wanted No. 0, that’s the number I wanted to wear, but Avery had No. 0. No. 7 is fine.
We know now that your Twitter handle @FCHWPO stands for "Faith, Consistency, and Hard Work Pays Off," but where did the idea come from?
Brown: "Hard work pays off" is a pretty popular term, right? I’ve had that Twitter handle for so long, since maybe like sophomore year in high school, so I think I just added faith and consistency. I think because my name was taken, so I came up with something creative that I kinda follow. Hard work pays off, I was a strong believer in that. I added faith and consistency, and it just applies to me and I haven't changed it, because it’s like a core set of values that I go by.
Do you think you'll ever change it?
Brown: I don’t want to say no, because you never know. I’m 19, it could change when I’m 25 or when I’m 30. But, as of now, it’s staying.