Some basketball players are fortunate enough to achieve their goal of reaching the NBA. For Boston Celtics second-year player Jayson Tatum, though, his goal wasn’t to just be in the league — he wanted to be Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
when I was like 4 or 5, I’d just always tell—my mom would ask me what I wanted to be when I got older. And I would just be like, ‘I wanna be Kobe.’ She’d be like, ‘You wanna be in the NBA?’ ‘No, like, I wanna be Kobe.’ He was just my favorite player. I had his posters, all his jerseys. That was my guy.”
As you can imagine, as a massive fan of the Black Mamba, Tatum actually used to “hate Boston,” he told Simmons. Obviously, things have changed drastically since that point, and considering the former No. 3 pick is coming off a rookie season in which he averaged 13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds, it’s safe to say Boston loves their young forward.
Who knows, maybe Tatum will get a chance to square off with the Lakers in the NBA Finals sooner than later. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to face his favorite player in Bryant, who called it a career after the 2015-16 season.
Tatum was a finalist for the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and he’s in the midst of carving out his own impressive story. The 20-year-old looks like a home run pick by the Celtics, and even with a loaded (and healthy) roster next season, he’ll still have a huge role.