Jaylen Brown is an All-Star and — without question — one of the best young players in the NBA, but the Boston Celtics are clearly Jayson Tatum’s squad. So Tatum’s relationship with team leadership is an important aspect of the Celtics’ efforts to build a contender.
The dynamic between Tatum and Boston’s new head coach, Ime Udoka, is especially important.
At recent Team USA training sessions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Tatum and Udoka have been spotted going one-on-one during and after practice. And the former No. 3 overall pick was asked about those battles in his latest media availability on Thursday, with the reporter noting that Udoka looked to be employing his trademark physicality while defending him.
While Tatum didn’t deny that the two had been working out, he definitely took issue with the notion that Udoka could defend him.
“He was trying to guard me,” Tatum quipped. “He didn’t have too much luck.”
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Tatum Schools Udoka, Then Talks Trash Afterword
More than any other person in the organization, Udoka is in a position to unlock his team’s potential on the hardwood and help Tatum reach new heights as one of the Association’s budding superstars along the way.
As such, the time they’ve been able to spend together in recent weeks as part USA Basketball could prove invaluable for the Celtics’ future. Spending hours together in the gym during the offseason is a big deal in and of itself; if the pair can help the Americans capture Olympic gold in Tokyo over the next few weeks, it will be all the better.
That said, while the two appear to be building a strong relationship.
“We were getting some extra work in at the practice, going through some drills, getting some extra shots up,” he elaborated.
The two-time All-Star, who averaged a career-best 26.4 points per game last season, was also asked about his impressions of Udoka as a coach. According to Tatum, the Celtics’ new headman is hyped for the opportunity to lead one of the league’s most storied franchises, but the two are currently focused on the task at hand.
“He’s excited to be the new coach, and for this opportunity,” said Tatum. “He’s motivated and driven. We’re both excited. Obviously have a job to do here first, and then we’ll take care of that when we get there.”
JT on Adjusting to Tokyo
While Tatum and Team USA have been hard at work in their Olympic preparation for a few weeks now, the Celtics star is clearly still adjusting to life in Tokyo.
“Trying to still get used to it, trying not to randomly fall asleep,” he said when asked about the transition. “Waking up at all hours of the night. My body is still trying to get adjusted. I guess it takes a couple of days.”
Nevertheless, Tatum is seemingly champing at the bit to go for the gold.
“I’m excited, I’m ready after being in Vegas and the long flight over here,” he said. “It’s almost that time.”
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