The Boston Celtics’ loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals didn’t sit well with Jayson Tatum.
The Celtics star acknowledged such in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, which seemingly suggests Tatum will have a bigger chip than usual on his shoulder when Boston tips off its 2022-23 season next week.
“I was exhausted,” Tatum said, per Mannix, reflecting on the Celtics falling to the Warriors in six games. “Didn’t feel like talking to anybody. Didn’t feel like being bothered. It’s hard to explain if you have never been in that situation. But losing a championship was (expletive) miserable.”
Drew Hanlen, Tatum’s longtime trainer, told Mannix he didn’t hear from the three-time All-Star for nearly two weeks after Boston lost to Golden State back in June, a sharp contrast from their normal daily communication.
Deep playoff runs can be grueling, both physically and mentally. And Boston’s journey to the NBA Finals was especially taxing for Tatum, who carried the burden of being the Celtics’ best player and logged significant minutes, all while dealing with an apparent shoulder injury and a wrist fracture.
Tatum is just 24 years old and still evolving as an NBA player. So, it’s not like he has too much mileage on his body. But when you consider his recent schedule — the postseason bubble in 2020, the pandemic-condensed 2020-21 campaign, the Tokyo Olympics in July-August 2021 and the Celtics’ four-round playoff push — and the inherent pressure of chasing a title in a big market like Boston, it’s understandable he wore down against Golden State.
Not that Tatum is using that as an excuse. Quite the opposite, in fact: He’s using it as motivation.
“It’s hard to call it a good year when you (expletive) lose a championship,” Tatum told Mannix.