It is not often that the Boston Celtics show love to their longtime rival Los Angeles Lakers, but Jayson Tatum grew up an L.A. fan. During a recent interview on the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast, Tatum revealed his top-five NBA players and the Lakers made up 40 percent of the list.
Tatum’s list, in order, was LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis. The Celtics star cited championship rings as his main criteria when determining his top-five players but made an exception for Harden.
“The guys at the top, I really respect the guys that got championships,” Tatum explained. “So, I give a nod to the people [that have championships]. Everybody in that top five got a championship. James Harden [is] different.”
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Tatum Was Rooting for the Lakers to Select Him in the 2017 NBA Draft
This is not the first time Tatum has spoken fondly about the Lakers. Tatum grew up a Lakers fan and admitted he was hoping the team selected him in the 2017 NBA Draft.
“My favorite player and my idol was Kobe and everybody knows that,” Tatum told TNT in a December 2020 interview, per Audacy.com. “So, I didn’t like the Celtics at all. I only grew up, I was like, I’m going to play for the Lakers. Honestly, I never knew what Boston was at. Like I knew only East Coast. But, I’d never been there, I never thought about going there.”
After an April Lakers-Celtics matchup, a photo of Tatum staring at the Staples Center floor went viral. The bad news for Lakers fans imagining Tatum teaming up with James and Davis is the Celtics star just signed a contract extension in 2020. Tatum inked a five-year, $163 million deal keeping him in Boston through the 2025-26 season.
Here is a look at the viral photo that caused a stir among Lakers fans.
Tatum Ranked Kobe Over LeBron in His All-Time Rankings
Part of the reason for Tatum’s previous Lakers fandom is his affinity for Kobe Bryant. Tatum believes anyone’s all-time rankings should start with Michael Jordan, Bryant and James.
“I will say anybody that doesn’t have Mike, Bron and Kobe in their top five, I really have a hard time listening to them,” Tatum noted. “…I think four, five are very interchangeable.”
Tatum ranked Bryant ahead of James but admitted part of his list ties to how the late Lakers legend influenced his passion for the game. The Celtics swingman understands why some would have James rated above Bryant.
“I would, just because I grew up [watching] Kobe, that’s why I started playing,” Tatum said. “If somebody said [LeBron over Kobe], I wouldn’t be mad.”
There is a mutual respect between James and Tatum as the Lakers superstar labeled him an “ABSOLUTE PROBLEM” in a February 2020 Instagram post. James also praised Tatum in a postgame interview after a Lakers-Celtics contest last season.
“The kid is special,” James noted on February 23, 2020, per NBA.com. “Obviously that’s a reason he’s a first-time All-Star, and he’s been special all year.”