Hours before the Celtics took the court Thursday night to protect their winning streak against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, Jaylen Brown was walking around in a fog.
Boston's second-year forward was not even thinking about basketball after learning about the sudden death of his childhood best friend, Trevin Steede, on Wednesday night.
"It was tough to kind of accept it," Brown said. "Plus, I was kind of in shock."
But after talking to his family and having conversations with Celtics coach Brad Stevens, Brown looked to the basketball court to find solace. The 21-year-old ended up playing one of the best games of his young career.
Brown had 22 points and seven rebounds, Kyrie Irving had 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws that put Boston ahead in the closing seconds, and the Celtics beat the Warriors 92-88 on Thursday night for their 14th straight victory.
"He inspired me to come out and play and I played in his spirit," Brown said about Steede.
They met after Brown transferred to Joseph Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia.
"I remember I didn't have any friends," Brown said. "The first few days I sat at the lunch table by myself — I'm super quiet and didn't know anybody."
Steede noticed Brown sitting alone one day and told him he could sit with him.
"Ever since then we've been best friends," Brown said. "He's been my brother."
He said the circumstances of Steede's death are still being determined and he declined further comment out of respect for his family. After the final buzzer, Irving walked over and embraced Brown