Cal Basketball: Celtics' Part-Owner Impressed by Jaylen Brown's Activism

Jeff Faraudo

Jaylen Brown is getting some praise from high places.

Jim Cash is a limited partner of the Boston Celtics these days, but as a young man in 1965 was the first African-American to accept a basketball scholarship from what was then known as the Southwest Conference.

A 6-foot-6 center, Cash was something of a Civil Rights pioneer when he began a career at Texas Christian University, where he averaged a double-double for all three years on the varsity, finishing his career at 13.9 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.

In an interview with Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Cash talked about the difficulties he faced as a black man playing in a time and place where he was not universally welcomed.

“I literally had a police escort to get in the University of Arkansas gym for the freshman game,” Cash told the Herald. “And for a long time, I actually hated the University of Arkansas because of that experience.”

Through all those challenges, Jim Cash’s life worked out pretty well. He is now Dr. Jim Cash. He serves on the boards of major corporations, including Walmart. And he is a professor emeritus at the Harvard Business School, where he was senior associate dean for the MBA program.

Cash, 72, looks on today as a new generation leads the fight for equal rights. He is impressed by Brown, the one-time Cal player and young Celtics star, who has spoken out on social issues and drove from Boston to his hometown of Atlanta shortly after the killing of George Floyd to lead a peaceful protest march.

“I am so proud of Jaylen,” Cash told the newspaper. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of that young man, not only in terms of the quality person he’s become, but how he is setting the stage for life after basketball, which is what I talk to so many of the young men about. He’s been so active. He’s a very special guy.

“As awful as what we’re going through is, it takes this type of circumstance to really deliver a level of consciousness on a broad basis so we can make a difference over the time that’s required to really make change.”

Brown spent just one years at Cal, but came across as a bright young man with interests that stretched far beyond the basketball court.

Even so, his basketball prowess was undeniable, even in its raw stages. Now in his fourth season with the Celtics while still just 23 years old, the 6-foot-6 guard was having a breakout season when the coronavirus halted the schedule in March.

With the NBA set to restart next month, Brown is averaging 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, both career bests. The Celtics, at 43-21, already have clinched a spot in the playoff, which will begin after 22 teams play eight games to shake off the rust of inactivity and finalize seeding.


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