To become a Celtics’ legend, Jayson Tatum turned to a Lakers’ legend.
In the run-up to Game 7 against the Heat Sunday, Tatum watched film of Kobe Bryant, a man who had five rings and some historic clutch moments of his own. Then during the game, Tatum wore a purple-and-gold Kobe 24 armband.
Jayson Tatum drew inspiration and paid tribute to Kobe Bryant with a 24 armband during Game 7 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/AS1IjjThvq
— NBA (@NBA) May 30, 2022
Jayson Tatum on his Kobe armband: "Today before I took my nap, I was watching some film and some moments from him and his career. This is the biggest game of my career thus far, and I wanted to wear that arm band to honor him and kind of share that moment in a way."
— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) May 30, 2022
It worked. Tatum and the Celtics are on their way to the NBA Finals, the first time the Celtics have been on this stage since 2010 (with Doc Rivers coaching Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce). Tatum had a team-high 26 points and some clutch baskets in the fourth quarter that built up the Celtics’ lead, which they (barely) hung on to in the final seconds.
Tatum grew up a Kobe fan and eventually was mentored by the Hall of Famer, who gave Tatum “shoot first” advice that has not always sat well with Celtics’ faithful. Kobe had inspired Tatum in Game 7s before.
Tatum has a new challenge in front of him with Stephen Curry and the Warriors, but he knows where to look for motivation and inspiration if he needs it.