Jaylen Brown asked a bemused Danny Ainge if the current Celtics are on the same level as the legendary 1986 team that steamrolled through the NBA on the way to a title following a 67-win regular season.
“He’s so young,” Ainge thought following his exchange with the 22-year-old forward.
Last season’s Boston squad came up well short of expectations—to say nothing of the level the ’86 group played at—making Brown’s query all the more confounding.
Per NBC Sports Boston:
“He might have handled a difficult situation better than anybody on our team last year,” Ainge said during a recent taping of The Michael Holley Podcast alongside Celtics managing partners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca. “Very mature kid, wants to be great, knows that his time is coming.”
“It’s hard for him to be patient, but he has been patient. And he continues to work,” Ainge continued. “He’s trying to find ways to get better, and I think Jaylen’s going to be a very good player and has a very bright future.”
Right now, that future includes a stint alongside teammates Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart on the U.S. National Team.
“He came and sat behind me, and he said, ‘Do you think we’re as good as the 1986 Celtics team?’ ” Ainge said. “And I went, ‘Oh my gosh. He’s so young.’ “
And to Ainge, Brown’s comparison was a sign of naivete.
“I mean, I just don’t think they could even grasp that 1985 loss to the Lakers and the torture of that series and what that led (to), and Larry Bird was in his prime, one of the greatest Celtics of all time,” Ainge said. “But it was just fascinating. (Brown) was looking at it like matchup to matchup to matchup, like you’re doing a video game. That was a real awakening to me — just the perspective of guys.”