Boston Celtics

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 23: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics wears a purple armband in honor of the late Kobe Bryant during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Four of the first round of the playoffs at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 23, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)

Jayson Tatum always looked up to the late Kobe Bryant growing up. The St. Louis kid would watch Lakers games and try to replicate Bryant’s patented shimmy fadeaway. So, when Tatum grew up to become an NBA star in his own right, he sought out Kobe’s advice.

When Tatum first got to the league, he trained with Bryant. Soon after, the Celtics wing was pulling moves identical to a young Kobe and drawing comparisons from media and fans.

But in a recent appearance on the Beyond The Press podcast, Tatum revealed that Kobe’s greatest lesson to him had more to do with his mentality.

“One of the many things I took from [Bryant] that always stuck with me, he kind of just asked me one day, ‘How much does it mean to you?’” Tatum said. “That kind of puts things in perspective. You know, how much does being great or being a champion or whatever, how much does it mean?”

For Bryant, being great and being a champion were everything. The “Mamba Mentality” set him apart from most of his peers. He demanded excellence from his teammates and was disappointed whenever a season ended in anything other than a ring. The approach made him a five-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP.

“What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to do, sacrifice? All those type of things. I think that’s kind of the model he lived by,” Tatum continued.

Training with Bryant taught Tatum what it took to be a champion and gave him specific goals he wanted to achieve – the loftiest goals a player can reach.

“Everyone wants to win,” Tatum said. “I want to be a champion. I want to be an MVP and want to be one of the greatest to ever play, Hall of Fame. That’s something I’m actively working on.”

For Celtics fans, you hope that Bryant’s lessons have stuck with Tatum. Because his mentality, of wanting nothing less than a championship year after year, is what a lot of Bostonians believe, too.

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