Former Celtics great Cedric Maxwell joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Tuesday to talk Celtics, as the team gets ready to face the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series. You can listen below for the full interview.
Maxwell had a pointed comment for Jayson Tatum, who in the absence of Jaylen Brown is the Celtics’ clear go-to scorer and star in every game. But scoring isn’t the problem with Tatum right now, as Maxwell explained. The Sports Hub’s own Celtics color commentator believes that Tatum needs to stand up for himself physically more often, and depend on the referees to call fouls less. “Max” pointed to one particular incident with Kevin Durant to illustrate his point.
“It pissed me off the other day, I’ll just be frank with you,” Maxwell said. “Tatum was in a situation with Durant. Durant came up and hit him with an elbow in the mouth late in the game, hit him in the mouth, drove down the lane, and then Tatum kind of ticky-tack fouled him, hit him on the arm. But immediately, he went to the referee and went, ‘Dude, he hit me with an elbow!’ That is not the point. The point, here, is you go directly to [Durant]. Marcus Smart can’t be your only crazy uncle on your team if you’re going to win basketball games. Your two top players have to be more aggressive. You say ‘Oh, Max, you’re talking about violence.’ You’re damn skippy I am, because one thing that happens in this league: ain’t nobody going to punch nobody. Guys aren’t even going to fart good in this league right now. Nothing is going to happen when it comes to that. But your best players have to be advocates for themselves.
“Over the years, all the great players you know have always done that. Kobe Bryant had fights. Larry Bird had fights. … Tatum is going to be probably the greatest scorer in the history of the Celtics, but if this team is going to go to another level, he’s going to have to take up for himself from time to time. And then, that’s going to go down the line and everybody else will step forward.”
Tatum is still just 23 years old, and it’s rare for star players to win championships at that age. So he may simply need more time to learn what it takes to battle back physically against other star players. But if Tatum wants to win at a high level, which Durant already has, he does need to stand up to opponents on his own. The referee isn’t going to come to his rescue every time.
Maxwell gets the call of the game along with play-by-play man Sean Grande on 98.5 The Sports Hub Tuesday night, as the Celtics take on the Nets in Game 2. Brooklyn leads the series 1-0. You can get the game on the Sports Hub at 7:30 p.m., starting with pregame coverage at 7.