‘I will always have faith in this group’: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown discussed early-season rumors at Finals media day

"In those moments where we lost, I knew that we had so much to learn and that I had so much to learn."

Jaylen Brown Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics speaks at a press conference during media day prior to the start of the NBA Finals. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In the light of their Eastern Conference playoff run, the conversation regarding Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown from early in the 2021-22 season looks a little reactionary.

Still, it’s worth remembering as the Celtics prepare to face the Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday how imminent the demise of the Jays felt for months. National media circled the team, wondering whether the Celtics might move Brown to find Tatum a better fit, or whether Tatum might demand a trade before his new contract came up. Local media wondered whether the duo had run its course, or whether Ime Udoka was the right coach for the job.

The Celtics say they never lost faith, which — again — is easy enough to claim in light of their run to the Finals. Still, the stars are adamant.


“I will always have unwavering faith even in the midst of situations that look like things are about to go in a direction that nobody wants to go in,” Brown said. “I will always have faith in this group and in this organization and in myself that we’ll be all right.

“In those moments where we lost, I knew that we had so much to learn and that I had so much to learn. If anything, it was more encouraging to learn from my mistakes and get better for the next year. I didn’t have any time to question myself or question what was in front of me because my belief was so strong.”

The Celtics, of course, are glad they didn’t listen to the narrative. Both Brown and Tatum in the playoffs have been excellent individually, and when they both play, their lineups outscore opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions per Cleaning the Glass. In other words, the Celtics have been significantly better than the best teams in the Eastern Conference with their best players on the floor.

“It was very frustrating,” Tatum conceded. “You know, head-scratching and all those type of things. It was more so, how can we figure it out? It wasn’t, like man, we can’t do this. It was, we got to figure something else out.


“It was tough. There were definitely some tough moments. I always remember the fun moments — my first year going to the Conference Finals, the bubble year going to the Conference Finals when we were winning all the time. Beginning of this year, every game was like, I don’t know if we’re going to win. It was a lot tougher than it should be, and that’s something I wasn’t used to.”

Brown said he felt like the issue early in the season wasn’t how he played with Tatum, but rather the long wait for everyone to get healthy.

“Early on in the season, I was injured,” Brown said. “I missed about 15 games. You know, the narrative isn’t going to say that. They are just going to say that you guys lost. Doesn’t matter what the excuse is. We’ve got a first-year head coach. We were trying to figure it out. We play in a city that it has no patience for any excuses, so we didn’t make any.

“But as things started to come together, we got healthier. We made a couple moves in the front office that were vital for us, and things started to fall in line. I think that’s what, if you ask me, that’s what I believe.”


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com