BOSTON — Jayson Tatum bucks a certain trend when it comes to NBA superstars.
The Boston Celtics forward isn’t one to adhere to load management, pushing to play even when dealing with bumps and bruises that could serve as the perfect excuse to take a night or two off here and there.
Tatum has missed just four games this season and is second only to Pascal Siakam in minutes played per game despite managing a wrist injury for the duration of the campaign. It’s the same ailment he re-aggravated last week after taking a nasty spill during a win over the Indiana Pacers.
Load management is a controversial subject in NBA circles, with some believing it helps keep the top players fresh amid an 82-game season. Others believe those same players don’t need any additional rest and when they fail to suit up without a valid reason, it harms the league’s on-court product.
Tatum had a refreshing take on the matter following Boston’s 117-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at TD Garden, explaining he didn’t get into this position to take nights off.
“I totally understand. It’s a long season. Some guys are a little bit older or managing certain injuries with all the sports science,” Tatum said. “For certain guys, it’s what’s best for them. For me, I just think about the young kid inside me from St. Louis that dreamed about being in the NBA. All I’ve ever wanted to do was play basketball.
“I love the game. I love to play. I try to never take this situation for granted. Always be thankful because I truly am living out my dream. Wake up excited and I get an opportunity to play basketball for a living. It’s not really work. Something I love to do.”
With the Celtics aiming for a repeat appearance in the NBA Finals, those in the Celtics front office are keeping a close watch on Tatum’s minutes knowing he’ll need to survive another grueling playoff journey. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has approached Tatum about taking a break even when he doesn’t want to.
“Brad sometimes wants me to play a little bit less. We’ve had conversations,” Tatum said. “It’s as simple as I just love being out there. I love playing. I love competing. Love trying to win as much as I can.”
With that approach, Tatum will surely celebrate his 25th birthday Friday by lacing up his sneakers and playing against the Brooklyn Nets at TD Garden.