Jayson Tatum Phoned Celtics Champion After Harsh Criticism

Getty Images Jayson Tatum of the Celtics was named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Before turning in his best week of the regular season, Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum had a bone to pick.

Last week, former Celtics center turned ESPN NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins blasted Tatum, via Twitter. Perkins called out Jayson for his disappointing performance against the Philadelphia 76ers along with his attitude and overall body language.

“Jayson Tatum you got paid the big bucks! You have the body language and energy level of an underpaid player and it’s hurtin the team,” Perkins tweeted. “Time to step up and live up to your role, straight up. Carry on…”

Tatum heard the message loud and clear — he’s been on a tear ever since. Naturally, Tatum responded with a career night — a 53-point performance — that was an unforgettable display of offense.

Kendrick, of course, took credit for Friday night after the Celtics’ 145-136 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now, however, Perkins reveals Tatum called the former Celtics champ before his emphatic turnaround and Perk says he respects the 23-year-old All-Star for doing it.

“The thing that I appreciate about Jayson Tatum is that he didn’t get sensitive, he didn’t get back at me on Twitter or social media,” Perkins said on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics postgame show, via Boston.com. “Guess what he did? Guess what ended up happening? We actually had a phone call conversation and we talked about it. He called me and we talked about it.

“I told him, ‘Hey man, I’m a huge fan of yours. I’ve been a huge fan of yours. I just feel like you have it in you to elevate your game even more. You can get 25 in your sleep, but I think you can separate yourself and be up there with the superstars and I feel like you got more in your game and that you can take over this team.'”

Kendrick Perkins: ‘I Appreciate Jayson Tatum Because We Didn’t Have a Conversation Where It Was Beef’

Perk appreciated the phone call from Jayson. And it wasn’t just because Tatum confronted the 2008 NBA Finals champion man-to-man but rather the nature of the conversation that was initiated by the Celtics All-Star.

“I appreciate Jayson Tatum because we didn’t have a conversation where it was beef,” Perkins said. “We had a conversation where he just wanted to understand where I was coming from and I got an understanding of how he felt about my comments. I had to let him know that I was not attacking him personally and that I am a huge fan of his. So, that’s how real people conversate and that’s how real professionals handle their business, the way that Jayson Tatum is doing — not getting all sensitive.”

Jayson Tatum Shines, Celtics Hold Off Trail Blazers

Against the Portland Trail Blazers, Tatum’s second-half heroics carried the Celtics to their fourth consecutive win. He scored 25 of his game-high 32 points in the second half to push the Celtics to a 116-115 win at Portland.

Tatum drained 10-of-17 attempts, including 4-of-7 from deep to go with his 9 rebounds.

Boston, winners of six of its seven outings in April, is now fifth in the Eastern Conference standings; trailing the Atlanta Hawks by one game. Averaging 29.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists while shooting at a 51.1% clip, this month, including 41.3% from behind the arc, Tatum’s on pace to chart his stretch of the regular season while the Celtics will look to translate it into wins.

Boston will close out its three-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers, Thursday night.


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