Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum has been the early star of the NBA Summer League.
The No. 3 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft has scored 44 points through his first two games in a Celtics jersey, two of which came on a game-winning pull-up jumper to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in his first ever contest as a professional.
His too-soon-to-tell-anything performance has been propelled by precocious footwork facing up and in the post, something he credits to his favorite NBA player—er, former favorite NBA player.
“Yeah, that’s my favorite player,” Tatum said when asked if he’s been influenced by Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Then the 19-year-old Duke alum corrected himself: “He was—then I went to the Celtics.”
Good catch, kid.
Bryant and Tatum met long before the latter knew he’d be in the NBA.
The good news for Celtics fans: The last small forward Lakers fan the team drafted in the lottery turned out to be a pretty good Celtic—Paul Pierce.
“I had dreams of wearing a Laker uniform at that age,” Pierce said before playing Bryant in the 2010 NBA Finals. “… Just to tell you, I didn’t want to be a Boston Celtic, but I am a Boston Celtic, and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”