Celtics’ Jaylen Brown wins NBA Finals MVP after leading Boston to first championship since 2008

BOSTON — There was a time not so long ago when Jaylen Brown’s future in Boston was in doubt.

After all those years of questions about whether he and Jayson Tatum would ever win an NBA title together, or if the stewards of the storied franchise would be better off breaking the Boston Celtics stars up, Brown signed a five-year, $304 million supermax extension last summer that made him the highest paid player in the Association. It all paid off on Monday night.


After Boston finished the finals job in Game 5, downing Dallas 106-88 in front of a TD Garden crowd that saw the Celtics crowned for a league-leading 18th time, Brown was named The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. The 27-year-old who was taken at No. 3 out of Cal in 2017, and who fell in the finals alongside Tatum two years before against Golden State after blowing a 2-1 series lead, helped Boston reach this goal that had eluded them since their much-debated partnership began in 2017.

He had 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Game 5 when Boston led 67-46 at halftime and cruised until the end. Brown, who won MVP honors in the Eastern Conference finals as well after Boston’s sweep of Indiana. Brown, who shot 44 percent from the field overall, averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, five assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks in the series.

His defense on Dallas’ Luka Doncic was a major factor in this one-sided matchup, as the Mavericks star struggled to be his transcendent self as often when faced with Brown’s physicality, length and smarts. Considering what had transpired back on Jan. 22, when the Celtics beat the Mavericks in Dallas and Brown sparked headlines with his postgame analysis that many believed was aimed at Doncic, this made for a fitting end.

“I think we kind of glorify guys who can play one side of the ball but we don’t really pay respect to people who guard and play defense and get deflections and steals and change the game in that area,” Brown told reporters after that game. “We only glorify the people who can score because that’s what the NBA has marketed. But basketball is both sides, and the purity of it is that as I’m challenging myself to get better. I’m challenging myself to be the best that I can on both sides of the ball.

“And moments like this kind of prepare you for, I think, the long run. Being able to pick up guys full court, being able to get in guys’ jerseys for long durations of time kind of builds endurance for the playoffs and stuff like that.”

He might as well have said it while staring directly into a crystal ball.

The irony of Brown winning both MVP honors is that it will surely spark some discussion about who’s better — yet again — when it comes to the Celtics’ dynamic duo. The difference now, unlike all those years ago, is that the Celtics themselves will pay no mind to such silliness. Brown chief among them.

“It’s definitely a blessing to be here, to represent the Celtics, my family, the organization, the community, our greater community,” Brown had said earlier this week about his Celtics experience. “It’s an honor that I don’t take lightly. So just to come out every night and play for something, for what I represent, I think that matters. My relationship with Boston has grown. I’ve been here for almost nine years now, since I was 18, 19 years old. I’ve grown up. I’ve become a man here. Boston is special.”

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