To be a Boston nice, Jayson Tatum is aware of he has to win an NBA championship


Jayson Tatum might finish his Celtics tenure with 10 All-Star choices, a half-dozen All-NBA first groups and a clutch of convention titles. However until he helps them hoist their 18th NBA championship banner to the TD Backyard rafters, he gained’t be capable of name himself a real Boston nice.

Nobody is aware of that higher than Tatum himself. Chatting with a packed crowd of reporters Wednesday at NBA Finals media day, the Celtics’ centerpiece celebrity acknowledged that his workforce’s customary for excellence is solely increased than it’s in almost each different NBA metropolis.

In Boston, solely champions turn into icons.

“We only hang NBA championship banners, right?” Tatum stated on the eve of Recreation 1 in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks. “Seventeen of them. Some of the greatest players to ever play this game wore this uniform. All of us are honored to follow in their footsteps, the way they paved for us to live out our dream.

“Essentially, yeah, if you want to be one of the greats to put on this uniform, every great before you won a championship. That’s what we try to play for every single season. The expectations are obviously different here. It takes special players to be here and to be a part of an environment like that.”

Tatum almost reached that rarefied standing two years in the past, when he and Jaylen Brown led the Celtics to their first Finals since 2010. Boston took a 2-1 lead in that sequence however dropped the subsequent three video games to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

These groups seemed like what they had been on the time: a multi-time title-winning dynasty in opposition to a younger upstart with no actual championship expertise. The Celtics’ execution was missing on each ends of the ground, and the Warriors gained in six.

“I hate that I had to go through it,” Tatum stated. “I wish we would have won. But I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. There’s a lesson to be learned in every situation. I do feel a lot different this time, this go-around, two years later. I’m excited for the opportunity for us to get the job done.”

The largest lesson? Regardless of head coach Joe Mazzulla’s insistence this yr that the common season and postseason aren’t any completely different, typically it takes a loss on the sport’s grandest stage to learn to win.

“I think we understood what it took to get there,” stated Tatum, who’s reached at the least the Jap Convention finals in 5 of his seven NBA seasons. “They understood what it took to get over the hump. … They’ve just been there before.

“In some of those tough moments, when I go back and look, you can tell that they had been there before. It was a lesson to be learned. I told myself that if I ever got the opportunity again to make it to the Finals, never take it for granted.”

Now, the Celtics are again, trying to proper their wrongs from 2022 and break the storied franchise’s 16-year title drought. Tatum, a first-team All-NBAer in every of the final three seasons, leads Boston in factors, rebounds and assists this postseason. His workforce gained a league-best 64 video games throughout the common season and is 12-2 within the playoffs, albeit in opposition to a trio of weakened East foes.

“He’s there for every single practice, every single game,” Mazzulla stated. “Loves being coached. Just carries himself the best way. There’s no one like him. He’s great.”

The nationwide narrative surrounding Tatum, nonetheless, has been largely adverse. His standing as a top-five participant has been questioned, his response to Brown’s East finals MVP award critiqued. He’s not considered almost as positively as his NBA Finals foil, Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who additionally doesn’t have a Larry O’Brien Trophy on his resume. A reporter talked about throughout Tatum’s media day information convention that the 26-year-old is likely to be probably the most scrutinized participant in these NBA playoffs.

“You think so?” Tatum replied, rhetorically, whereas smiling and pantomiming a basketball shot.

That criticism, Tatum stated, bothers his mom and grandmother. As for his personal emotions? He took the excessive highway, chalking the chatter as much as the interminable 10-day break between the tip of the convention finals and Recreation 1 of the Finals on Thursday night time at TD Backyard.

“My mom took it a little tougher than maybe I did,” Tatum stated. “But for me, I don’t take it personal, right? Just a long break without NBA basketball, also they had to overanalyze every little thing to have something to talk about.

“Did it get old? Yeah. But, you know, it’s the Finals. They wouldn’t talk about me if I wasn’t good, so try to take some positives out of it and change the channel.”

Altering the channel is simple. The one strategy to change the narrative and solidify Tatum as a Celtics legend and unquestioned NBA elite: beat the Mavs and declare Banner 18.

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