For Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, the suspension of the NBA season over the past month has been a double-whammy. He been away from his team and has not played in a meaningful game since March 10. And as he has hunkered down at home, Tatum has had to deal with this reality: He does not have a basketball hoop or court at his house.
“I mean, it would be a lot easier, especially if I had a basketball court in my house,” Tatum told a group of reporters on a conference call on Monday, according to Masslive.com. “But that’s kind of expensive. Maybe I’ll get like a hoop that I could put on the outside of a garage or something.”
Tatum is in the third year of his rookie-scale contract, which is slated to pay him $7.8 million this season. He is also well-known among his teammates for being especially meticulous when it comes to money. So, at a time when the future of his paychecks is in doubt, Tatum has not been throwing money around on backboards and rims.
Still, Tatum was on the call to announce his participation in a program to help the Greater Boston Food Bank during the COVID-19 crisis. Tatum has pledged $250,000 to match any donations given to the Food Bank here and has teamed with fellow St. Louis-area native Bradley Beal to match another $250,000 in donations to the St. Louis Area Food Bank.
“Just trying to find a way that I could be of some assistance during this time,” Tatum said, according to the Boston Globe. “Always trying to find a way to give back.”
Biking, Weights and Jump Rope for Tatum
The NBA suspended the season following the games of March 11 when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus ahead of a game in Oklahoma City. The league ordered shutdowns of NBA practice courts and gyms a week later, which means Tatum has not had access to the Celtics’ new state-of-the-art facility in more than three weeks.
Tatum said he has been trying to stay in shape with weights and jump rope, plus riding his stationary bike.
“It’s not as lavish as the practice facility,” Tatum said, “but you make do with what you’ve got and make the most out of it.”
‘Figuring This Thing Out First is More Important’
Tatum conceded that the suspension of the NBA season, right as the stretch run was heating up and teams were flipping into playoff mode, was difficult on all players in the league. For a young player like Tatum, who was averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists and was in line to perhaps earn his first All-NBA selection, the stoppage interrupted his growth.
And though the focus of NBA fans has been on whether—and how—the league will play out the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule, Tatum understands that is not a priority.
“I mean, it’s tough,” he said. “Everybody wants to be playing. But everybody understands that there’s more important things going on right now. So whatever happens with the season, I’m sure they’ll make the right decision and what’s in the best interest of making sure that everybody’s safe and healthy first. Just figuring this thing out first is more important, and everything else will take care of itself.”