June 25, 2024

Jayson Tatum was ‘anxious’ meeting Larry Bird before All-Star game

While Jayson Tatum continues to etch his name into Celtics lore, the 25-year-old is still midway through his career. But the accolades continue to come for the five-time All-Star, including All-NBA appearances plenty of deep playoff runs.

Despite being the face of the Celtics franchise for several years, Tatum revealed a small nugget Sunday ahead of the All-Star game in Indianapolis. Speaking with TNT’s Jamal Crawford, Tatum revealed why he might have to shoot for his second straight All-Star Game MVP.

Tatum, Brown help Celtics overcome Doncic's triple-double in 119-110 win  over Mavs - The San Diego Union-Tribune

“We can,” Tatum said of hoping for the award. “I ain’t going to lie, I met Larry Bird tonight for the first time. I never met Larry Bird in my life. I got to meet him. I was anxious. I got some juices flowing for the game right now.”

Of course, there’s little denying what Bird meant for the city of Boston during his playing days, whether it was racking up MVPs or championships. So for now, C’s fans will hope some of that success will rub off on Tatum — starting with this year in what could be their best chance at Banner No. 18.

The last time a player went for back-to-back All-Star game MVPs was Russell Westbrook from 2015-16. Well, Tatum has a chance to go for the same thing because he won All-Star MVP last year after putting up 55 points in a victory, including some back-and-forth with Jaylen Brown.

Statement from Larry Bird | NBA.com

This year, the All-Star game is back to the old-school East vs. West format. That means Tatum will team up with Brown instead of having a little one-on-one action during the middle of the game. Tatum is set to be a starter while Brown is a reserve. It’s Tatum’s fifth straight All-Star appearance while Brown has made it in three of the last four seasons.

Ahead of the game, Tatum said Saturday that he doesn’t think he’ll go for back-to-back MVP looks, saying it’s a “feel thing.” But it sounds like meeting a Celtics legend for the first time gave him some extra juice.

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