Jayson Tatum rightfully basks in plaudits after demonstrating his Mamba mentality.
The Boston Celtics forward nearly passed Kobe Bryant in the NBA record book Friday night in the Celtics’ 92-87 win over the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. Tatum scored 29 points, with 12 rebounds and seven assists, becoming the second-youngest player in NBA history to record a 25-, 10- and five-plus performance in each respective category in Game 7. Only Bryant achieved the feat at a younger age than Tatum — by 94 days, according to the NBA.
Afterward, Tatum, who counts Bryant among his heroes, addressed his statistical comparison with the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
“Everybody knows how much he meant to myself, how much he meant to this world, to the game of basketball,” Tatum told TNT in a postgame interview. “Anytime you’re mentioned with somebody like that, it means you’re doing something good.”
Celtics point guard Kemba Walker believes Tatum’s Game 7 performance confirmed his NBA-superstar status.
“He’s a superstar,” Walker insisted in a postgame video press conference, per NBA TV. “He showed it tonight. Anyone have any question or doubt on that? He showed it.
” … special, special kid. He works hard, he wants to win, he loves playing with his teammates. He was unbelievable.”
Tatum, Walker and Co. will enjoy a few days’ rest and recovery before undertaking their next playoff test. The Celtics will face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images