BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum wasn't too thrilled when he was initially drafted by the Celtics in 2017. He admits now that he didn't understand the sports scene in Boston, or what playing for such an intense fanbase would be like.
Now 25 and seven years into his Celtics career, Tatum is dreaming about bringing a banner to Boston. He's already been embraced by fans, but knows that winning a championship for the city will lift him to a whole new stratosphere.
Tatum opened up about the challenges of playing in Boston and living up to the incredible expectations from the fans during his recent appearance on the Point Forward podcast with Andre Iguodala and former Celtic Evan Turner. (Listen to the full podcast here.) He also discussed his initial thoughts when the Celtics drafted him third overall in 2017, and being a 19-year-old in a city that he was not very fond of.
Most of that had to do with what Boston sports had done to the teams Tatum rooted for as a kid. He remembers the New England Patriots beating his hometown St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, and the Celtics beating Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals.
"Honestly, I didn't understand how special of a place Boston was until I got here," Tatum admitted. "I didn't like Boston. I felt like them beating the Rams was the reason the Rams ended up leaving [St. Louis]. We was never good after that. They beat Kobe in '08, so I was sick about that.
"But this is a special place," Tatum continued. "They love their sports teams, they love their guys. And I feel like I've been embraced, I feel like they've accepted me as one of their guys. There's a sense of pride, there's an edge you have to have to play here. I can only imagine the love -- I know how much love I get now. I can only imagine the love, the reception, if you hung one of those banners up.
"It would be incredible," said Tatum, before stopping himself. "It's going to be incredible. I know it."
If that last line doesn't get Celtics fans even more fired up for Tatum and this year's Celtics team, they should check their pulse.
Tatum has constantly said that he wants to be the best player on the floor every night, and that occasionally gets misconstrued as him only caring about his individual stats. But that has never been the case; Tatum wants to win, and he wants to win a title for the Celtics.
He's already one of the faces of Boston sports, if not the face of Boston sports at the moment. Winning a title will only further strengthen his grasp on that title, and give him immortality in one of the best fanbases in the world.
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