‘The criticism’s stupid’: Brad Stevens rips haters after Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown lead Celtics to NBA title

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The criticism surrounding Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should now go away after the duo led the Boston Celtics to the 2024 NBA title, but even if it doesn’t, team executive and former head coach Brad Stevens thinks it’s “stupid” anyway.

“I think the criticism’s stupid,” Stevens said while celebrating the title. “So, I don’t care. I’m with Jaylen on that. Those two had achieved more than most 25- and 26-year-olds ever had, and the only reason they received scrutiny was because they were playing in late May and June. And as a good friend of mine said, I’d rather be in the mix and have my guts ripped out than suck. And those two guys have been really good a long time.”

With Brown and Tatum leading the way, the Celtics wrapped up their 18th NBA title in franchise history with a 106-88 victory against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the 2024 NBA Finals on Monday night.

Brown was named MVP of the Finals, a notable honor for a player who has at times had to deal with the fact that he does not always get the credit he deserves, even though some observers see the 27-year-old as a superstar in his own right. In fact, after Game 1 of the Finals, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd called Brown the Celtics’ best player.

That distinction is usually held by Tatum, who led the Celtics in Game 5 with 31 points and 11 assists. Such a showing in a championship-winning game is a strong rebuttal to those who have maintained that the 26-year-old at times comes up short in his playoff performances.

Those failures often were highlighted because — as Stevens said — they came on some of the league’s biggest stages. After Brown joined the league in the 2016-17 season, Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals six times (including this year) before winning an NBA title. (Tatum arrived for the 2017-18 campaign.)

Stevens was the head coach of the Celtics for eight seasons, starting in the 2013-14 campaign and ending after the 2020-21 season. Last offseason, as an executive, he helped bring in Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, and the additions put Boston on a course toward an excellent 64-18 regular-season record and 16-3 run through the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

The future also looks bright for the Celtics, with Tatum, Brown and the rest of the core in line to have a strong chance to repeat in the 2024-25 NBA season. But even if they do fall short, they will already have the rings that can answer whatever new criticism might come their way.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.