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at 24, Jayson Tatum is possibly the most Laker Celtic of all. Much more than Clyde Lovellette or Rajon Rondo, the only two starting players with both franchises. And it’s probably because his mentor and role model is called Kobe Bryant.
An icon who, even two years after his sudden passing, continues to have a huge influence on the Boston winger’s career. During Game 7 in Miami, Jayson Tatum also wore a bracelet in tribute to the Lakers legend and shared, on Instagram, the photo of an SMS sent to the number of Kobe Bryantas motivation.
” Everyone knows how much it means to me.”recognized the All-Star of the C’s, after his qualification for the endings 2022.” We know he is my idol, we know he is my favorite player. I just wanted to get a piece of him, in Game 7, in the biggest game of my career. And it worked. »
Like Kobe Bryant, it was NBA or nothing for Jayson Tatum
For years, Jayson Tatum modeled his game on that of Kobe Bryant. On television or on the Internet, he constantly consumed videos of the “Black Mamba”.
A true obsession, which began in the 2000s and that nothing and no one could alleviate. After all, if you wanted to pursue a basketball career, you had to be inspired by someone…
” I remember my dad telling me, ‘Don’t just look at his baskets, don’t just look at his shots, but rather look at how hard he works to be available, his demeanor, his efficiency with his body, his feints. and his footwork’. This is where I really started to pay attention to detail. “said the recent MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Precisely because he wanted to go to the NBA more than anything, Jayson Tatum never thought of a plan B. Like Kobe Bryant and other great players before him, he only aimed at this one goal.
” I was like, ‘What’s your plan B, just in case? [tu n’atteins pas la NBA] ?’ he remembered his mother, Brandy. ” Then one day he looked at me and said, ‘That’s the difference between me…’ and then he named a bunch of people. ‘These people have an alternative plan, a plan B’. His exact words were: ‘Mom, it’s either that or die.’ I replied that there might be something else for him, like training, I was trying to find something else for him. But he was adamant: it was this or nothing. »
It’s an understatement to say that the “Mamba Mentality” has been flowing through Jayson Tatum’s veins since she was young. Former “hater” of the Celtics according to his own words, the boy from Saint-Louis (Missouri) did not care much about the statements of his mother, who kept telling him that he could not be Kobe Bryant, despite that deep desire.
” my favorite player was kobe “, explained on this subject the main interested party, in 2018. “ Even before, when I was 4 or 5 years old and my mother asked me who I wanted to be next, I told her that I wanted to be Kobe. So my mom asked me if she wanted to play in the NBA and I said, ‘No, I want to be Kobe.’ He was just my favorite player. He had his posters, all his shirts. He was my player. »
In the footsteps of the “Black Mamba”
A player with a legendary work ethic, which Jayson Tatum took inspiration from growing up. Inconsolable and angry after each defeat, without rest or time for himself, the now franchise player Boston has not stopped following in the footsteps of Kobe Bryant.
Then the former Duke resident finally made it to the NBA, with 3rd-choice status in the 2017 Draft, and he immediately knew how to talk about it. In particular, leading the C’s to the Eastern Conference finals, from his rookie season, while also bringing the former Lakers’ attention back…
” I started talking to him during the playoffs. “, he recalled, referring to this famous summer of 2018 where they trained together. ” He told me to contact him when I’m in Los Angeles and tell me if I want to go to the gym with him. Then it happened and I remember he was sweating that day, my heart was racing and I walked into the gym and I was like, ‘Damn, Kobe is here and I’m about to… Wow.’ […] At one point during practice, I remember him showing me something or telling me what to do next, and I was sitting there and I was like, ‘Fuck, I’m practicing with Kobe Bryant.’ »
At just 20 years old, Jayson Tatum had the privilege of being able to work with one of the greatest scientists of the orange ball and, even today, he struggles to find his words when he remembers this unique moment. ” A childhood dream come true “says Brandy Cole, about this private training session.
” He’s iconic, he’s accomplished a lot. Added the Boston player, still a fan of Kobe Bryant in 2022. The way he did things, his behavior, the way he did it… It was different. That’s the best way to put it: he was just different, he wasn’t like everyone else and he did things his way. When he died, you could see a lot of people my age and even older people said that he was the reason they worked so hard and started playing basketball. »
Make Kobe Bryant proud, as much as possible
Even if your mentor and role model is no longer there to see you succeed and flourish in your role as franchise player of the Celtics, Jayson Tatum does not stop paying tribute to him. Both on and off the field.
” It doesn’t matter if we are in the regular season, the playoffs or the All-Star Game: all he has ever done is follow and imitate Kobe “, Supported his mother Brandy. ” On the court, in life, at All-Star Weekend, on the national team. »
Precisely, with the US team, it was not surprising to learn that Jayson Tatum regained the number 10 from Kobe Bryant, in the 2019 World Cup and then in the 2021 Olympics.
” As this is the first Olympic Games since his death, wearing this number has even more value and is not something I take lightly. “, announced in the summer of 2021.” I remember that in my first basketball team I wanted the number 10. Everyone knew that Kobe was my favorite player. He was 15 years old and could wear my favorite player’s number. I felt that I was connected to him. »
Ultimately, Jayson Tatum’s only regret is not being able to make Kobe Bryant proud during his lifetime. Like when he won his first selection for the All-Star Game, in 2020, a month after the death of the ‘Black Mamba’.
” It’s a mixed feeling because I’m sure Kobe would have been there and I’m sure Jayson would have gotten a text or call from him congratulating him. “Lamented Brandy Cole. ” He would have been happy to see Kobe proud of him. But I already know that he knows that Kobe is proud of him. And, if he maintains that Mamba mentality, he’ll be a permanent All-Star, an MVP contender and everything in between. »
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