Jayson Tatum is living his dream by playing against a lot of the guys he grew up idolizing.
And though he was confident he’d get to this point one day, even the Boston Celtics star himself couldn’t imagine how quickly things started to take off.
The 23-year-old took over the NBA’s account Monday to answer questions on a Reddit AMA, and discussed his ascension in the league.
“It?s different now,” Tatum wrote in response to a question about competing with NBA superstars. “Everything was new to me my first year or two as I was living out my dream. I was a little starstruck, having to almost pinch myself that this is my reality, and getting a chance to compete against these people I grew up idolizing. I think now — I still have that same respect for all the guys that have been doing this for a long time — but I?m also trying to make my own imprint on this game.”
Tatum said he looked up to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George before getting drafted, and now they’re his toughest matchups to guard individually.
He still loves watching Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal and Anthony Davis, but likes the game of a few guys he came into the league with, too.
Tatum mentions Bam Adebayo, Donovan Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox, but Tatum is on a bit of a higher level than that.
“I always felt like I would be a star, but it just came a lot faster than I expected,” Tatum admitted. “Towards the end of my rookie year, around the time when Kyrie went out with injury, we went undefeated on a West Coast road trip and finished the season as the second seed. I obviously had to take on a bigger offensive role, and it was during that period where I felt like even though I?m young and this is my first year, I?m built for this.”
Tatum flourished then, taking full advantage of his opportunity in that 2018 postseason and parlaying it into quite the early career.
And two All-Star teams later, we’d certainly say he belongs.