SALT LAKE CITY — Like many kids, Jayson Tatum grew up dreaming of setting records on the biggest of NBA stages.
“I’m not too far removed from being a kid in St. Louis with essentially a ball and a dream and dreaming about these moments of being here,” Tatum said. “And living out that dream in reality is hard to describe.”
He was living out that dream on Sunday night, scoring an All-Star Game record 55 points on his way to earning the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award and lifting Team Giannis to a 184-175 win over Team LeBron.
55 PTS (NBA All-Star Game Record)
Jayson Tatum balled out to lead #TeamGiannis to the win and claim 2023 #KiaAllStarMVP!#NBAAllStar | @Kia pic.twitter.com/k4EXJHtTgz
— NBA (@NBA) February 20, 2023
Tatum grew up idolizing Kobe, which makes winning his award all the more special, Tatum said.
“My first All-Star Game was in Chicago in 2020 when they renamed the MVP after [Kobe], Tatum said. “I remember telling myself that day that I’ve got to get one of those before I get done.”
Tatum was hot from the tip-off, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. However, he put his stamp on the game in the third when he scored 27 in a barrage of 3-pointers, he was 10-of-18 from beyond the arc in this game. He said he didn’t know about the record or the fact he was close to it until his team told him.
“I remember running down the court, one of my assistant coaches told me,” Tatum said. “Then Dame [Lillard] — I think I had, like, 49, and Dame was, like, ‘The record is 52, go get it.’ I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to go get it.'”
One of the more entertaining parts of the night was when Tatum and fellow Celtic Jaylen Brown started isolating and going right at each other.
JB vs. JT 🍿 pic.twitter.com/G2sFAlKzmR
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 20, 2023
“That was like another day at the office for us, right?” Tatum said. “Been on the same team for six years now. We’ve played a countless number of one-on-one games, scrimmages against each other. We’ve always kind of brought the best out of each other. So it was a normal day for us, just millions of people watching on one of the biggest stages.”
You can be sure those 55 points and that MVP award will come up next time Tatum and Brown face off in practice.