Exclusive: Jaylen Brown, NBPA host rookies at Vegas event, talks Donda Sports, 7uice Brand

Las Vegas is kind of exactly how you imagine it. It’s a lot of gold-plated this, and stucco that. Nothing is real — even the high-end stuff is a bit of a mirage. The NBA’s annual Nevada-based summer league has a spurious air to it as well. It’s as much a scene as it is a basketball showcase.

I’d had never been to Las Vegas prior to this week. I’m here covering a slew of NBA events in what seems to be a never-ending churn of promotion and noise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been the honor of a lifetime, but ask anyone here on assignment, and they’ll tell you that the grind is as draining as the Nevada heat.

Still, every desert has its oasis, and I found one on the top floor of the MGM Grand — really by accident if we’re being honest. Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown was throwing an event for his clothing brand 7uice and thought I’d check it out, expecting a retail pop-up similar to the kind Brown has hosted in the past.

Instead, I stumbled onto something much more dynamic and got to see firsthand why Brown really is such a unique individual. I chatted with Jaylen about 7uice, the night itself, Donda Sports, and more.

Jaylen Brown is measured when he speaks. He articulates his thoughts clearly and directly, without filler or fluff. Celtics fans are no doubt accustomed to what an orator Brown has become.

At the same time, though, JB is warm and personable. He has a big, hearty laugh, and a real gravity to him, with that intangible mix of charisma and style. He proved an incredibly gracious host all evening long at his Rookie One Court event.

The occasion in question is a collaboration between several partners and one Brown has thrown for several years now each summer in Las Vegas. Along with 7uice, the event is hosted by 2K Sports, the NBA Players Association, and NBA Top Shot. It’s a mix of business and pleasure, designed specifically to welcome newly-minted rookies into the community, especially during Summer League. Brown is, after all, one of the vice presidents of the NBPA Executive Committee.

“I was one of the young guys where there wasn’t a lot of cool things to do in Vegas being under age,” Jaylen told me. ” So this is us being able to do something for the pretty young guys.”

Early that day, Jaylen spoke at an event hosted by the NBPA. He welcomed the newly minted rookies to the organization as part of a longer seminar on what the organization is and how it works.

“(It’s about) putting the rookies in the room with the NBA Players Association,” Brown told me later that night. “People that they can build relationships with, that’s going to help them down the line. Because of the (Player’s Association), we’re stronger together. We’re getting all those guys to understand what the Players Association represents, what we’re trying to do in the future.”

We just wanted to make a nice event for rookies. So they can come and have a network of people they can be introduced to, and have a good time at the same time.”

Jeremy Sochan of the San Antonio Spurs headlined a group of rookies who stopped by for the evening festivities. Anyone who came by was invited to have a bite, check out the party’s amenities and mingle with the diverse cast of attendees.

Rookies were also able to go home with some Donda merchandise, Brown’s new brand partner. I asked Brown about his recent signing with Donda Sports. “It’s amazing,” he explained.

“It allows me to continue to be myself, to do things the way I’ve been doing them. The platform is elevated, they take everything to the top. So I’m excited for the clothing brand. I’m excited for the deals and the stuff we’ve got in the future. Donda just brings a whole new energy to the table.”

The scope of the evening also went beyond rookies and official NBPA business. NBA Top Shot, the group behind the league’s foray into NFTs and Web 3, had a corner dedicated to celebrating highlights and collectibles. 2K Sports, the makers of the NBA 2K video game seriesalso helped host the event. Several televisions were set up so people could get an exclusive look at NBA 2K23. Grant Williams’ postgame stats adorned one TV – Batman went 6-8 from the field playing as himself.

The event was a showcase of culture, and Brown and the other partners shared some of the love by inviting other creatives and brands to enjoy the night and mingle. There was a clothing pop-up for the sustainable, Boston-based clothing brand ROBE Looks. The folks at the Konvoy took set photos for anyone who wanted one. I even got a haircut from the mini barber shop that was set up – next time you need a fresh line in Atlanta, ask for Lauren the Legend.

Through it all, 7uice Brand served as a quiet centerpiece to the evening. Yes, the walls were adorned with the increasingly iconic logo, and guests walked away with a fair bit of swag. But it didn’t feel like some corporate soiree or photo op. The words love and community came up in many conversations I had.

The event was a celebration of people and culture. Malcolm Durr, the creative director of 7uice, told me the whole vision for the brand was to allow Brown to connect with fans and with people. Importantly, Durr hopes the 7uice project can “influence change where it’s needed in the world.”

And that’s where the authenticity of the evening, of the partnerships, and of Jaylen Brown himself really come to a head. Lots of athletes have interests and passions away from the court. Jaylen’s are well-documented, and his care about of the state of the world extends to 7uice.

7uice is an apparel brand at its core, but Brown is looking to grow it into something more. “7uice right now is a company that’s growing,” he said. “It’s still in development, although we’ve exceeded our expectations.”

The company itself, a collaboration between Brown, his older brother Quenton, and a few close confidants has been in existence for north of five years. His 2021 wrist injury and subsequent recovery gave the Georgia native a bit more time to focus on growing the brand, and the past year and a half have really shown promise.

The 7uice Foundation, a related venture, is Brown’s way to really make an impact.

“We just have got to put positive energy into the world.” said the Georgia native. “The foundation — we do a lot of work with education and mental health.”

The clothing brand may be more familiar to casual fans of Brown’s, but the work there is no less special. It’s a tight-knit group of passionate people working to launch something meaningful. Folks were really eager to chat about the project well before they realized I was doing a story on it.

“We’re just trying to be eco-friendly, trying to put positive energy into the community, and also help people look good and have some fun at the same time.”

7uice is looking to switch to sustainable clothing in the future. In fact, the brand could be at 30 to 40 percent sustainable by next year. That’s nothing to sneeze at — more than a third of micro-plastics in the ocean come from synthetic clothing and fast fashion.

What I found so striking about his comments was Brown’s gentle conviction. It wasn’t some green-washing from on high. He really knows what he’s talking about, and clearly stands by practicing what you preach. Standing there in a city of sin and greed, I couldn’t help but marvel at the honesty I was getting from the 25-year-old Brown.

“The future is bright.” Brown told me.

The Boston Celtics are fresh off of a competitive trip to the NBA Finals. Brown’s newest teammate, Malcolm Brogdon, is an agent for change within the NBPA and beyond. The 7uice summer line just dropped, and Donda Sports is on the grow. The future for Jaylen Brown is as bright as can be.

This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire.

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