Among the NBA’s “Rising Stars” Friday morning at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center was another superstar, albeit almost two decades younger, in the making.
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum’s 15-month-old son, known affectionately as “Deuce,” was tottling across the court after his father practiced with Team U.S. for the evening’s Rising Stars Challenge. Decked out in a black-and-white Nike jumpsuit, a babbling Deuce scurried around with a basketball in his arms — and even played pass with another member of Team U.S.: New York Knicks rookie Kevin Knox.
— 2019 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) February 15, 2019
At one point, Tatum tried to give the youngster a boost so he could make a basket, but even his 6-foot-8 frame and 6-foot-11 wingspan couldn’t get Deuce to reach the rim. “Hey Mom, I ain’t tall enough,” a smiling Tatum called out to his mother, Brandy Cole, who was watching courtside.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 15, 2019
Before Friday’s practice, Tatum also fielded questions from reporters about topics ranging from his favorite emoji, which he says is the heart because he loves people, to the biggest thing he’s learned from point guard Kyrie Irving.
“Just watching how he conducts himself, how he comes into work every day and continues to be one of the best players in the league for a reason,” Tatum said of Irving. “It’s not by accident. He works at it. He’s super committed.”
While it’s still unknown whether Irving, who earned the sixth All-Star nod of his career this season, will take the floor for Sunday’s All-Star Game, the 26-year-old will be coaching Tatum and the rest of Team U.S. in the Rising Stars Challenge. But Tatum is equally prepared to lay down the law.
“I’m going to tell him how much time I’m playing and when I come out — if I come out,” he joked.
Though Tatum fell short of being named an All-Star this season, he will still be busy over the weekend. In addition to being a “Rising Star,” he is one of eight players scheduled to participate in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday night.
“Being a part of All-Star is a special feeling,” Tatum said. “Just seeing all the guys around the league, all the on- and off-court festivities, it’s the best place to be right now at this time of the year.”