When thinking about the best players in Boston Celtics history, Jayson Tatum is not a name that comes to mind right away. Guys like Paul Pierce, Larry Bird, Bill Russell and many other NBA Legends are names are mentioned right away. That’s not saying that Tatum can’t get there.
In fact, he’s off to a strong start. Tatum has nearly 10,000 points, four all-star appearances and several long playoff runs. Tatum is still just 25-years-old. Jayson Tatum understands that being an all-time great in Celtics history requires multiple championship banners and he certainly hopes to win some.
“I would love to be on the Mount Rushmore of Celtics,” Tatum told Jeff Goodman of The Messenger. “(Larry) Bird, (Bill) Russell, Paul Pierce and those guys. They paved the way. The one thing all those guys have is chips. I have to get to the top of the mountain to even be considered as one of those guys. I want to be an all-time great, I want to be known as a winner, and I believe I will be.”
A year ago, the Celtics were in a strong position for another championship. They were coming off of a Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors and they added Danilo Galinari. Once Ime Udoka was suspended, things started trending in the opposite direction. Gallinari suffered an ACL tear that wound up sidelining him for the entire season, and an injury kept Robert Williams out for the early part of the year.
“It was a lot, a lot to process and deal with,” Tatum said. “And I give us credit, we came together. I think it brought us together as a team. We had the second-best record. We could have had every excuse to start off slow and make excuses.”
“I am for sure going to miss Smart. He was my teammate for six years and we’ve been through it all. We had good moments together, we had bad moments together. He’s somebody that I wish was going be my teammate forever.”
“I was excited for Jaylen, and I wasn’t surprised. That was a no-brainer for me because he deserves it. He had a hell of a year, the best year of his career, and he was rewarded for that. It was the right time. People make a big deal of $300 million. The NBA makes a lot of money. Contracts will be $350 and then $370 million. That’s the way it’s going. I was happy for him. I knew it was going to happen, it was a no-brainer, but I still reached out to him and told him he should be proud of himself and his family. Don’t take it for granted. This is generational.”
There’s not a lot of NBA players these days that actually stay loyal to their teams, but it sounds like Tatum will be:
“Just recently I started to feel the connection with Boston. I have spent my adult life here, my son has grown up here, I’ve grown up here. I’ve accomplished so many things. … You never know what can happen, but I love playing for the Celtics. I figured out my space in the city and have grown to really enjoy it. I love the fans. It would be really hard to leave this place.”
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