In a rare interview with Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum, the St. Louis native spent plenty of time reflecting on his NBA career, goals he’s set, and a special conversation he had with the late Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant.
While speaking to Beyond The Press host Ashley Nivel, Tatum discussed an array of topics.
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Kobe Bryant Asked Jayson Tatum: ‘How Much Does It Mean to You?’
But, one subject that came up and received a touching response from Jayson was when he was asked about the best piece of advice he received from Bryant, who spent time working out with Tatum, back in 2018.
“One of the many things I took from him that always stuck with me,” Tatum said, via Beyond The Press. “He kind of just asked me one day, “How much does it mean to you?” and that kind of put things in perspective. How much does being great or being a champion, or, whatever, what are you willing to give up? What are you willing to do to sacrifice?
“And, I think that was kind of the motto he lived by.”
Tatum, who grew up idolizing the Lakers’ five-time champion, Hall of Fame legend, once called meeting Kobe was a “dream come true.”
Jayson Tatum On Kobe Bryant: ‘Someone I Really Looked Up To’
Two days after Bryant’s death in January 2020, Tatum, who was at Miami for a Celtics matchup against the Heat, shared a few thoughts with the media at the team’s morning shootaround.
“He was somebody I really looked up to, and really was like my hero, the reason I started playing basketball,” Tatum said back in 2020. “To becoming a friend and mentor, somebody who I could talk to and help me out with a bunch of things, on and off the court. It’s just been a tough couple of days.”
Perhaps, this is what’s led Jayson to set such a high standard for himself and his NBA career.
Kobe Bryant’s Impact On Jayson Tatum
He hopes to not only garner the greatest accolades one can receive from the association but much like Kobe; leave an everlasting imprint of the game by ascending to becoming one of the league’s all-time greats.
“Obviously, everyone wants to win. I want to be a champion,” Tatum said. “I want to be an MVP. I want to be one of the greatest to ever play — Hall of Fame — and that’s something I’m actively working on.”
In the meantime, Tatum doesn’t want to be labeled one of the NBA’s best young players.
“I don’t know if myself and the other guys like being one of the best young players, I think I just like being one of the best players,” Tatum said. “So, I don’t necessarily look at it as since I’m 23, I’m with the young guys because when I go on the floor — and I’m sure a lot of the players do it — I feel like I’m the best player.
“So, I don’t like being “one of the best young players,” just one of the best players.”