Apparently Jayson Tatum Hurt The Celtics By Idolizing Kobe Bryant Instead Of Kevin Garnett

Every once in a while a take comes across my desk that genuinely makes me feel like I’m the star of The Truman Show. It’s like that particular tweet is a plant to trigger me into writing a 1,000 word blog giving more attention to an inconsequential tweet that I actually wish no one saw at all. This one falls directly into this category:

No one writes a headline like this expecting people to read those words, click on the article and think, “well said sir”. To be fair I don’t actually even think Celtics fans are insane enough to agree with the overarching statement in this headline or within the content of the article itself. And if you attach your name to a take so unnecessarily controversial for the sake of clicks and engagement, you have to be willing to lay off the ‘block account button’ crutch.

I’m sure Chad is a swell guy. I’m not going to question the basketball prowess of anyone named Chad just like no one has ever challenged my opinion as a female lifelong Lakers fan living in Boston. But of all the ways to describe what he is about to argue in this piece, this is certainly not the one I would have chosen.

Call it an epiphany sparked by the Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies this weekend. Call it indelicate, if you must. Just remember to call it the truth.

The Celtics would be better off right now if Jayson Tatum grew up idolizing Kevin Garnett rather than Kobe Bryant.

Only the most hardcore of NBA fans may have heard, young superstar for the Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum grew up idolizing the best basketball player of his generation, Kobe Bryant, well known Los Angeles Laker. Kobe Bryant was inducted to the NBA Hall of Fame this weekend, most notably due to his accomplishments as a 5x NBA champion, 2x Olympic Gold Medalist, known for his insatiable competitive drive to win. A best selling author, the only professional athlete to win an Oscar, inspiring visionary and teacher of the game. But I guess for the good old Boston Celtics, it would be better if Jayson Tatum idolized someone else instead. Sorry Jayson, you picked the wrong guy.

Now the only way I would agree with this brave statement is that it definitely would have been better for the Celtics if their superstar generational player idolized someone that played for their team instead of someone who played for the opposing dynasty in one of the greatest rivalries in professional sports. It certainly would be better for the Boston Celtics if Jayson Tatum was a massive homer originally from Dorchester who’s cousins brother in laws uncle used to go out drinking with Whitey Bulger and who cried when Tom Brady left the Pats.

Often, referring to an athlete as an icon is an act of obvious hyperbole. For a few, though, it’s the most fitting way to describe them. Larry was an icon. Magic, too. MJ, more than anyone. Such a heady designation belongs to Kobe, too.

I’ll dodge that risk of hyperbole and acknowledge that it does not belong to Garnett, a one-time champion, one-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and like Bryant and Tim Duncan, a freshly minted Hall of Famer.

I think he’s something rarer than an icon, anyway.

Garnett is the most unselfish true superstar I’ve ever seen in the NBA. I’ll grant you a “save for Larry and Magic” there, and his deceptively laconic Springfield classmate Duncan has a case, but I think he stands alone.

Instead of aspiring to be an icon, mentioned in the same breath as players like Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Boston’s own Larry Bird, Jayson Tatum should instead have his sights set on being an unselfish superstar joining a perennial all star and one of the leagues most prolific shooters in the first Big Three to ever exist. God how good would Jayson Tatum be if he could only suck it up and play with Steph and Klay on the Warriors

Kawhi Leonard Basketball GIF by ESPN

At least that’s what would be best for the Boston Celtics.

Tatum has that Kobe habit of trying to solve his team’s problems by looking to create his own shot more aggressively. It’s understandable; when Tatum gets rolling, as he did in his 60-point masterwork in the comeback win over the Spurs April 30, it seems like even a lineup of Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, and three MonStars wouldn’t impede him.

Seems like the criticism here is actually that Jayson Tatum needs to be more consistent in idolizing Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant would have dragged these Celtics to at least a 7 game series in the Eastern Conference Finals. Nothing against Kevin Garnett at all, but Tatum growing up idolizing him would not help the Celtics right now any more than if he grew up idolizing Guy Fieri.

I cannot be the only one — I know I am not — who watched Garnett’s highlights during the Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday and thought, “That is exactly what this year’s Celtics are missing — that intensity, that passion, the idea that losing a basketball game is a personal affront that must be avenged. Can’t Stevens add him to the coaching staff or something? Give him the Udonis Haslem role? Tell me something is possible there.”

“That intensity, that passion, the idea that losing a basketball game is a personal affront that must be avenged” is not a mindset owned or trademarked by Kevin Garnett. That intensity won the Lakers 3 back to back championships when Jayson Tatum was just a little infant running around in Huggies. That intensity spurred a 10 part critically acclaimed docuseries on Netflix.

Enough with the misguided hero ball. Enough being distracted by the officials. Enough with saying all the right things but failing to do them, again and again.

It’s so much more satisfying, such a larger experience, when team pride, rather than individual pride, becomes fulfilled.

Kevin Garnett, Hall of Famer and champion, epitomized that sentiment as well as or better than any basketball player I’ve ever seen.

What a disservice Jayson Tatum has done to the Celtics by growing up idolizing someone who plays misguided hero ball, constantly distracted by the officials and saying all the right things but failing to do them, again and again. That’s Kobe Bryant alright.

Call me triggered, a biased Lakers fan who like Tatum grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, or a slow content day, but I know if Jayson Tatum is anything like the guy he unfortunately idolizes this has already been added to the bulletin board.


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