Only NBA greats end up with iconic nicknames, and they almost always come from other stars.
Well, it looks like Jayson Tatum may be the latest to coin a new nickname — and he’s cool with it.
Before the league suspended play amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Boston Celtics traveled to the Los Angeles Lakers on February 23. And although the C’s came up short in the 114-112 loss, there was some good to came out of it.
LeBron James posted a photo on Instagram immediately following the game, in which the Lakers star gave the then 21-year-old Tatum quite the compliment.
“That boi to the left of me is an ABSOLUTE PROBLEM!! Keep going #YoungKing ?? #OnelegSleeveGang lol ?????” James captioned the photo.
James’ comments left the sports community wondering if he had given Tatum a new nickname: The Problem.
During an appearance on Monday’s episode of “The Jump,” Tatum recalled what that night meant to him — and gave the green light on the new name.
“I mean, I’ll take that nickname,” he said with a smile. “I remember, he posted, it was like right after we played him. We were in L.A. and I remember was back in my hotel room and I was taking a nap because it was an early game. And I remember my best friend from back home, he called me and he was like, ‘Bro, go on your Instagram! LeBron just shouted you out.’
“And I remember I saw it and I’m a competitor, but I realize at the end of the day, that’s one of the greatest players ever and somebody I looked up to growing up, so I still understand that’s a big deal.”
Jayson Tatum joins #TheJump & says he "hasn't touched a basketball" since Boston's last game. We also discussed last year's MVP (he thinks Harden should have won), food he's helping get to families in Boston & St. Louis, and if he's on board with the new nickname "The Problem" pic.twitter.com/Pe0OxboyY2
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 13, 2020
Tatum isn’t the first Celtic to be given a nickname from a rival teammate, of course. Shaquille O’Neal was the one who first called Paul Pierce “The Truth.”
The real test will be if the nickname sticks or not. But if it does, Tatum has given his seal of approval.