Joining Boston Celtics superfan Bill Simmons on a podcast for The Ringer, Boston Celtics budding star Jayson Tatum admitted the unthinkable: the Celtics were once his most despised NBA team.
“I used to hate Boston,” the 20-year-old Tatum told Simmons.
But Tatum’s reasoning was more than valid, as he considered the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to be his basketball idol.
“My favorite player was Kobe,” Tatum admitted. “Even before then, like when I was like 4 or 5, I’d just always tell—my mom would ask me what I wanted to be when I got older. And I would just be like, ‘I wanna be Kobe.’ She’d be like, ‘You wanna be in the NBA?’ ‘No, like, I wanna be Kobe.’ He was just my favorite player. I had his posters, all his jerseys. That was my guy.”
Given his age and fandom, Tatum’s since-lost disdain for the Celtics makes sense, as he was just old enough to truly hate the Celtics when they went head-to-head with Bryant and the Lakers in the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010; Tatum was just 10 years old when the C’s denied Bryant a ring in 2008, and was 12 when and the Lakers returned the favor in 2010.
(It’s also no shock to hear that Tatum idolized Kobe, especially when you run some of their on-court moves side-by-side.)
In what was a downright sensational rookie year with the Celtics, Tatum even got to do a little extra work with the L.A. legend, and did his part to play a sponge to everything Kobe told him about the game and how to get better year-to-year.
“I tried to get into his mind and see how he went about things,” Tatum said of his meeting with Bryant. “Just trying to get better each year, what he wanted to improve year after year so he didn’t backtrack or be complacent. His will to just be the best and just striving to get better every year. That’s one thing I found interesting. When we were working out, his thing was just trying to break the game down and make it as simple as possible. He said the year he averaged 35, all he worked on in the summertime was pivot foot, trying to play off both pivots. He said, ‘That’s all I did for the entire summer. Obviously, I expanded off a move from each pivot and a counter move to that.’ But he was like, ‘The entire summer that’s all I worked on.'”
Expected to play a massive role for the 2018-19 Celtics, Tatum also made it a point to mention how he feels the complete opposite of Boston now that he’s experienced what it’s like to call the Garden parquet home.
“I love Boston now,” Tatum admitted.