Celtics

Jayson Tatum felt he ‘didn’t even belong’ in photo with Celtics legends, plus All-Star takeaways

"Being in that picture with them was special."

Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum of Team Durant looks on in the first half during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

When Jayson Tatum spoke to the media during his All-Star availability this weekend, he brought up Kevin Garnett’s pending jersey retirement with the Celtics.

“KG was my favorite Celtic of all time,” Tatum said. “And I don’t play like him, I don’t act like him, but you can appreciate people that are different than you. I think his swag and his attitude, what he brought to the game I was always a fan of. He was always my favorite Celtic. So I’m looking forward to it. I’m happy for him — obviously he deserves it, what he brought to the Celtics.”

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Tatum had a quiet All-Star Game — eight points, 4-for-10 shooting, five assists in 20 minutes. He seemed content to let others take the spotlight (and Steph Curry was ready to step into it).

But before the game, Tatum had maybe his most notable moment in a weekend that seemed full of them: A photo with his favorite Celtic as well other franchise greats Paul Pierce, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. All four were in town along with many other members of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, which was honored at halftime.

At this stage in his career, Tatum — who has made three All-Star Games in his five NBA seasons — clearly has a chance to be a part of the Celtics’ pantheon represented by the likes of McHale, Parish, Pierce and Garnett, although the Celtics will certainly need to get beyond the Eastern Conference finals to cement his place.

Tatum called the moment “incredible” after the game.

“I kind of felt like I didn’t even belong in that picture with all that they’ve accomplished and what they mean to the game, and especially to the Celtics,” Tatum said. “That was my first time meeting Parish, and I know the other guys pretty well, but being in that picture with them was special. That was something I will frame, and a moment I’ll always remember.”

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Over the weekend, Tatum tweeted that he also spoke to Allen Iverson.

“AI tell me he love my game every time I see him,” Tatum wrote. “That mean everything coming from him.”

More takeaways

2. Prior to the game, several Twitter users noted how long it has been since the All-Star Game was in Boston. The last time was 1964 — a historic night most notable because players threatened to strike unless the league’s owners recognized their union. Since, the event has traveled all over the country with multiple appearances in other cities.

Per the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn, that might change soon. The Celtics‘ ownership group — led by Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca — plans to submit an application to host the event, and the league could award Boston the event as soon as 2025.

Plenty of challenges lie ahead — most notably, the Celtics don’t own their arena. But per Washburn, the league is excited by the prospect of Boston hosting the All-Star Game, and the TD Garden is now well-equipped for an All-Star event with restaurants and event venues attached and plenty more nearby.

3. Tatum’s son Deuce was in attendance in Cleveland, and he took a photo with Nikola Jokic’s brothers — a pair of similarly famous NBA family members.

In his All-Star media availability, Tatum was asked about Deuce’s popularity.

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“I guess it’s cool, and he enjoys it,” Tatum said. “Every time he comes to a home game, people cheer when they see him and scream his name, and when he comes to games on the road and here at All-Star. He has his own personality.”

4. Tatum was asked how he stays healthy in the context of LeBron James’ longevity. Like most teenagers, Tatum said he didn’t do much to take care of his body early in his career.

“I didn’t lift, I didn’t get massages, I didn’t care about what I ate,” Tatum said. “I was 19. I was in a new city with a new team, I just had a kid, I had a lot going on. But I think start of my third year is really when I changed the course of watching what I eat, maintenance, massages, treatment, lifting more. The start of my third year is when I started doing that.”

Not so coincidentally, Tatum is now driving through defenders and remains one of the most durable players on the team — the bulk of his games missed over the last two years were due to COVID, not injury.

5. The All-Star Game itself was surprisingly fun thanks to Curry’s heroics and the Elam Ending, which transformed the fourth quarter of a goofy exhibition game into a competitive event.

Curry dominated the first three quarters with an incredible 3-point shooting display, totaling 50 points and an All-Star record 16 3-pointers made. After Curry went cold in the fourth, LeBron James posted up Zach LaVine with Team LeBron leading 161-160 and buried the game-winner.

A lot of things could be done to improve All-Star Weekend, but the Elam Ending — as well as the sheer talent level of the stars — helps make a mostly non-competitive game with very little defense played quite a bit more entertaining than it has any right to be.

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