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ECF MVP Jaylen Brown reflects on award snubs, embracing negativity

ECF MVP Jaylen Brown reflects on award snubs, embracing negativity originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Jaylen Brown's Eastern Conference Finals began with being left off the All-Defensive and All-NBA teams. It ended with him hoisting the Larry Bird Trophy as the series MVP.

Brown let his play do the talking after his award snubs, propelling Boston to the NBA Finals with stellar performances in all four games. His series was highlighted by a 40-point outburst in Game 2 and a clutch 29-point outing in Game 4.

In the final minutes of the series-clincher, Brown hit the game-tying shot, came up with a huge block on Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard, then dished to Derrick White for what turned out to be the game-winning 3-pointer in the 105-102 victory.

Much to Brown's surprise, Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell announced him as the Eastern Conference Finals MVP.

"I wasn't expecting it at all," Brown said of the honor. "I don't ever win s--t. I was just happy we won."

Asked about his All-NBA snub following Game 2, Brown stated that he didn't "have the time to give a f---" with his team two wins away from the Finals. While it was the perfect response, there's little doubt being overlooked bothered him, especially coming off the best season of his career on both ends of the floor.

On Monday night, though, he was all smiles as he held the Bob Cousy and Larry Bird Trophies.

The award snubs weren't the only negativity surrounding Brown during this series. Ahead of Game 4, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that a source told him of Brown, "It's not so much that he's underrated. It's that he's just not liked because of his 'I am better than you' attitude. ... It's the same reason he is not as marketable as he should be." Brown responded to Smith's report on social media, writing, "State your source."

With the Larry Bird Trophy sitting next to his microphone at the podium, Brown opened up about ignoring the outside noise.

"At this point, I'm at that phase in my life where I just embrace all forms of negativity or whatever the case is," he said. "Some stuff I don't understand. It ain't meant for me to understand it. But I just know who I am and what I stand for. Sometimes it makes people feel uncomfortable and sometimes I miss out on things, I miss out on opportunities, awards, marketing deals or whatever the case may be.

"At this point, I just embrace it. I am who I am, and I'm going to stand on my beliefs. And I'm one of those people who would die for what they believe in, so I just embrace it at this point and I'm grateful that I'm able to be in this position, and the energy is about to shift."

The pundits and award voters may not appreciate the strides Brown has made in his career, but his teammates sure do. Derrick White spoke glowingly about him after Monday's win.

"He's unreal," White said of Brown. "I knew he was unreal when I got here, but the great thing about JB is he's gotten better every single year that he's been in this league, which is a testament to his hard work and dedication.

"He was unreal this whole series on both sides of the ball. A complete player that you don't really see much these days. Both sides of the ball he was unreal, and I love being his teammate."

Brown took pride in his improved defense throughout the regular season. He made it known on multiple occasions how much it would mean to him to earn an All-Defensive nod for his efforts.

He admitted being excluded from the list of the league's top defensive players hurt, but he hasn't let the omission affect his confidence.

"I think I'm one of the best two-way wings, guards, whatever you want to say, in this game," he said. "I thought this year I've taken a level and I've increased it. I took the matchup, I picked up guys full-court, I chased guys off screens, I battled with bigs, and I felt like I should have been on All-Defensive. That probably hurt me the most because that's one of the things I set out in this season that I wanted to be.

"But, you know, as time has gone by and I've gotten to this point, I stopped caring. I don't care who sees what, as long as my team knows my value, my city knows my value, my family, that's all I really care about. But I like to set my hat on just being a versatile two-way wing and can do both at any point in time. The last four minutes of this game, you saw that."

Brown and the C's will have plenty of time to recharge as Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals is set for Thursday, June 6 at 8 p.m. ET at TD Garden. Boston will battle the Dallas Mavericks or the Minnesota Timberwolves for Banner 18.

You can view the full Finals schedule here.