Six years after Jayson Tatum requested a follow back from LeBron James, the King finally bestowed the honor upon him. All Tatum had to do to earn it was throw down a thunderous dunk over the head of his childhood idol.
In 2012, the Celtics budding star was a 14-year-old namedropping his familial ties to James. He hoped that James, then on his way to his first NBA championship, would follow him on Twitter.
On Thursday, James finally fulfilled Tatum’s wish.
IT WORKED! pic.twitter.com/gMnWWXswJG
— Sherwob Holmes (@World_Wide_Wob) June 28, 2018
In the meantime, Tatum grew from a boy attending James’s basketball camps to a professional peer and even rose — for one fleeting moment in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals — above the three-time NBA champion. That one-handed slam and ensuing chest bump ensured James would never forget Tatum’s name, but James already knew all about the Celtics rookie.
“I just love everything about the kid, the way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from,” James said. “I just know he’s built for stardom. He’s built for success. And that’s both on and off the floor.”
The pair might be making plans to test each other’s mettle again over the offseason. According to Yahoo Sports’ Ben Rohrback, James was so impressed by the dunk he made a mental note to add Tatum to the list of players he works out with this summer.
“He got me,” James said. “That f***ing Tatum boomed me.”
James then repeated “he’s so good” four times. After the game, Tatum said going up against James was a “special moment” for him.
“I grew up watching LeBron and asking him to follow me back on Twitter, going to his camps,” he said. “So just to be able to compete against a player like him and be a few shots away from beating him and his team to go to a championship is something I will always remember.”
Now Tatum has James’s attention if he ever decides to reminisce on their meeting at the rim.