Celtics’ Jayson Tatum grew up Kobe Bryant fan: ‘I used to hate Boston’

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This summer, Jayson Tatum got to work out with Kobe Bryant and pick the future Hall of Famer’s brain about what made him so good, what drove him, plus what Tatum could do to improve his game (such as work off both pivot feet).

It was a dream for Tatum, who grew up idolizing the Lakers’ Kobe. It also led to an odd revelation for the Boston star during The Ringer’s The Bill Simmons Podcast.

“I used to hate Boston… my favorite player was Kobe. Even before then, like when I was like 4 or 5, I’d just always tell—my mom would ask me what I wanted to be when I got older. And I would just be like, ‘I wanna be Kobe.’ She’d be like, ‘You wanna be in the NBA?’ ‘No, like, I wanna be Kobe.’ He was just my favorite player. I had his posters, all his jerseys. That was my guy.”

Of course, Tatum says he loves Boston now. Which is good, he’s going to be there a long time and could help bring a title back to the city, the Celtics are contenders right now and should be for years to come.

Brown also talked to Simmons about what he took away from his time with Kobe this summer.

“You know, I got to meet with him. And we talked about a lot of things, basketball-related, non-basketball-related. I tried to get into his mind and see how he went about things. Just trying to get better each year, what he wanted to improve year after year so he didn’t backtrack or be complacent. His will to just be the best and just striving to get better every year. That’s one thing I found interesting.”

As far as role models go for work ethic and desire to improve, Kobe’s about as good as they come. He was driven, single-mindedly at times. Tatum can learn from that, and if he makes the kind of step forward in his second season — which is going to have a different feel with Gordon Hayward back — it puts the Celtics that much closer to another banner.