Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum had an unforgettable night during Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.
The 24-year-old set the All-Star Game record by scoring 55 points, which also included a record 27-point third quarter, during Team Giannis’ 184-175 win over Team LeBron. Tatum’s highlight-reel performance featured a double-double (10 rebounds) along with connecting on 10-of-18 3-point attempts in a game-high 35 minutes played.
In notching his latest career milestone, Tatum was honored by the league with the Kobe Bryant KIA Most Valuable Player Award, which holds a great deal of significance to the four-time All-Star.
“It means the world to me,” Tatum said, per NBA TV video. “I was in the first All-Star Game in Chicago when they renamed the All-Star MVP after him. And I remember in that moment, telling myself I was gonna get me one of those one day. And this day is extremely special for me. To get one of these and everybody knows how much he meant to me — my favorite player, my idol. So it’s an honor to take this home.”
Before Bryant’s tragic passing in 2020, Tatum often spent time training with the basketball icon during the offseason.
Bryant notched his highest All-Star Game point total back in 2011 when he scored 37 and like Tatum, was named MVP while representing the Western Conference. That would serve as Bryant’s final of four All-Star Game MVPs over the course of his career.
“I remember he would always tell me, ‘How much does it mean to you? How much does being special? How much does being a champion? How much are you willing to sacrifice?’ And that always resonated with me,” Tatum said.
Tatum also became the eighth Celtics player to win the award and the first since Larry Bird in 1982.
“Guess I’m not 19 anymore,” Tatum said, per NBA video. “I say it all the time, I’m extremely grateful and blessed to be in this situation. I’m not too far removed from being a kid in St. Louis with essentially a ball and a dream. And dreaming about these moments of being here.”