LOS ANGELES — You might want to stand up for this; Brandon Boston Jr. would.
It almost seems like the rookie guard has spent his whole tenure with the Clippers on his feet, whether he’s been up off the bench cheerleading, getting buckets with their G League contingent or enjoying his first NBA minutes, 81 and counting entering Friday’s showdown with the Lakers.
Putting on a show, regardless.
“Got to, got to,” Boston said Monday afternoon, minutes after he became the youngest player – having turned 20 the day before – in G League history to score 46 points in a single outing, when he led Agua Caliente to a 130-97 victory over Salt Lake City, a game in which he missed only five shots.
“It’s entertainment, at the end of the day,” said Boston, who also played in the NBA game Monday night and again two days later, when he contributed 13 points and a ray of hope for the slumping Clippers in their loss to Sacramento.
“I know this is your job, but have fun with it,” he said. “If you don’t like your job, why you doing it?”
The way the 6-foot-7, 188-pound Boston does it is with a puppy’s unrelenting enthusiasm – and a student’s concentration, eyes wide and jaw working a piece of gum, soaking up new information about rotations, when to attack, when to operate off the ball, whatever will give him a step on the other team.
Like Lou Williams, another Clippers fan favorite before him, Boston is a preternatural, professional scorer from the Atlanta area. A Southern California transplant who said he eats at Roscoe’s House Of Chicken ’N Waffles every couple of days, Boston already has been featured as one of the stars of two docuseries.
The long-limbed guard appears in the recently aired “Klutch Academy,” in which he was one of the six prospects under the agency’s banner preparing for the NBA Draft. He’s also in “Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers.” That IMDb TV project, in partnership with Lakers star LeBron James and Maverick Carter, followed the high-profile Chatsworth-based boys basketball team on its global barnstorming tour, making literal Boston’s analogy that his senior season – when he played with James’ son, Bronny – “was a movie.”
An old soul and a likable kid, Boston’s veteran teammates have welcomed his advice and his young G League compatriots celebrate his success, going so far as to good-naturedly boo their own coach, Paul Hewitt, when he pulled Boston from Monday’s game when he was four points shy of 50.
Paul Hewitt pulls Boston Jr. with 46* points — and gets booed by his own bench. pic.twitter.com/KqkpH0Ny99
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) November 29, 2021
Boston is 6 a.m. serious about his craft, clocking in at that time just about every day since sixth grade in pursuit of his hoop dreams, a practice he’s continued as a pro – even if his employer doesn’t particularly encourage it. (“They definitely are on me about that,” he said.)
And he’s deeply motivated, propelled not only by his passion to play but because he wants to honor his friend Terrence Clarke. Boston’s teammate at Kentucky, Clarke was killed in a car crash in Northridge in April, shortly after he’d left a workout with Boston.
“He’s forever with me,” said Boston, motioning to his lower left leg, where he has the likeness of Clark’s smiling face tattooed. “Dedicating the rest of everything. Gotta finish the mission. Terrence, he had the same goals, same ambitions, so I just gotta finish the mission for him.”
Boston envisions a prosperous career, ordering up a league MVP and a pair of NBA titles by 30, if you’re asking him to plot a course to the signpost 10 years up the road.
“He’s just as confident as they come,” said Clippers All-Star Paul George, to whom Boston said he turns often for advice. “That’s what separates him from a lot of rookies, a lot of young guys, his confidence. He was drafted for a reason, for his skill set and talent, but what makes him special is just his confidence.”
So let’s put a few items in a time capsule, a to-go box of Boston’s rookie impressions:
He’s captured the imagination of Clippers fans since the team acquired him on draft night from New Orleans, which selected him 51st overall, in exchange for cash and a 2022 second-round pick. That was much later than the top-10 prognostications of a year earlier, after he’d emerged from Sierra Canyon as California’s Mr. Basketball but before he’d had an underwhelming single season at Kentucky, where he was hampered early on by a broken finger.
“One thing about Brandon,” Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said by phone, “he’s never gonna be knocked off his pivot. Whatever comes his way, he’s gonna stand strong and I think sometimes, the greatest players, the greatest people have obstacles put in their way to see how badly they want something. It’s not going to stop him. He’ll use it as motivation.”
Boston said he wasn’t watching when his name finally was called on draft night, because he was outside on the phone with his agent, Rich Paul, wondering what might come next – neither of them the wiser until the people who were gathered inside started screaming for him.
What Boston also will remember about that time was that he had worked out for both L.A. teams in the days before the draft, but that leading up to it, he’d stayed in the Clippers’ gear.
“What’s crazy is that week, I worked out with the Clippers and the Lakers and I was wearing the Clippers sweatsuit the whole week,” he said. “I was telling my cousin, like, ‘Yo, watch this, I bet you I be a Clipper.’ And it just worked out like that!”
And the Clippers opted to compensate him with a contract more commensurate with how they view his skill set, signing him to a two-year, $2.5 million guaranteed deal, reportedly the most by a player selected in the 50s who wasn’t a draft-and-stash prospect.
Now a pro, Boston said his Sierra Canyon basketball education – which was designed, Chevalier said, to “mimic the NBA” with multiple games in NBA arenas – helped equip him for the jump.
More than familiarizing him with the setting, though, Boston said his Trailblazers tenure prepared him for the intensity of competition ahead: “Just know that I have a target every time I step on the court, just be ready to come with whatever punches are thrown my way.”
The toughest part of his new job, Boston said, is the waiting.
“Just staying patient,” he said, “and fighting that battle with yourself every day, just to know that it’s you vs. you … just making sure you’re putting in the right work, the right foods, your mind is in the right place, mentally, and that’s really it. It’s definitely a mental game. If you don’t have the love for this game, it’ll eat you up quick.”
The best part?
“Everything,” Boston said. “Just absorbing everything, being a sponge, learning, taking it day by day, asking questions when you don’t know – because I got a team full of great vets. I ask Paul, I talk to Paul a lot. Reggie (Jackson), Marcus (Morris Sr.), just how they do it? How do you maintain in this league?
“They just told me just stay hungry, have fun and work, keep working and everything will fall in line where it should.”
The young fella puttin’ in work!
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) December 2, 2021
🗣️ AND ONEEE
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 17, 2021
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) October 7, 2021