Celtics Jayson Tatum Drops Truth Bomb on Ime Udoka

Jayson Tatum, Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics

Getty Jayson Tatum, Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics have both enjoyed an incredible season, and currently find themselves battling for an NBA Championship against the Golden State Warriors.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though, as both Tatum and the Celtics struggled out of the gate, with neither party able to find their rhythm in the opening months of the season. However, since the turn of the year, the Celtics have been one of the best teams in the league, and Tatum has proven himself as one of the best talents the NBA has to offer.

Still, we all knew that the 24-year-old from St. Louis was an incredible scorer, but it’s the other areas of his game that have taken him to the next level. Suddenly, Tatum is an unquestioned playmaker, capable of using his scoring gravity to generate easy scoring opportunities for his teammates, while also being a fierce on-ball defender and excellent off-ball defender too.

When speaking to Malika Andrews during an interview with ESPN, Tatum credited Ime Udoka for his sudden improvements, noting how a conversation with the rookie head coach put everything in perspective for the three-time All-Star.

“I gotta give a lot of credit to coach Udoka. Coming into this year, challenging me to be the best player I can be, as well as the team. Sitting down with me, he told me that last year, it should have left a sour taste in my mouth, not being All-NBA. And that I need to leave no doubt, and that it’s more than just scoring, I need to be the best two-way player, best playmaker, making other guys better.

He’s challenged me every day, from the beginning of the season, and I really appreciate that. I’ve seen what it’s done for myself and the success of the team. Everybody is buying into the philosophy of what he’s trying to teach us on the offensive end, and we’re one of the last teams standing, so it’s worked,” Tatum told Andrews.

Tatum Not Happy Being Called a Superstar

Despite his lofty stat lines, his dominant scoring performances, and his sudden development of becoming an elite-level playmaker, Tatum doesn’t know where the superstar label, or debate about the label, has come from.

“A lot of people want to debate — I guess you just commented about the superstar, whatever that means, right? I’ve seen there’s a huge debate: is he a superstar or is he not? I want to know where that came from. Did I tweet that? Did I ever say I’m a superstar, I’m on the verge? That never came from me.

It’s been a big deal this last year and a half or two years. I see it all the time. There’s always been a question in the back of my head, I wonder who spoke on my behalf or said that or why that was such a big deal,” Tatum said during a June 7 press conference.

Regardless of whether Tatum believes he’s a superstar or not, he’s currently the Celtics’ best player, leading them through an NBA Finals matchup. Furthermore, the Duke product is averaging 26.3 points, 6.2 assists, and 6.5 rebounds per game throughout his 21 post-season appearances en route to game four of the NBA Finals, while shooting 43.1% from the field and 38.3% from deep – those are superstar type numbers, no doubt about it.

Tatum Appreciates Udoka’s Hardline Approach

During games, Udoka cuts a stern figure as he roams the sidelines, barking orders to his team and challenging poor decisions by the referees. We’ve also seen firsthand how the rookie head coach is willing to hold his team accountable after poor performances, especially at the start of the season when the road was far bumpier.

Tatum, who has unquestionably blossomed under Udoka’s tutelage, has certainly taken the tougher brand of coaching to heart, and during a June 9 media availability, he noted how Udoka’s tough-love approach is something that he appreciates.

“I don’t know if you all see. He cuss us out a lot, but I guess it’s warranted during the games. He always has, from when we were winning and when we were an 11 seed, he still had the same belief in us, in this group, that we could get it done. That’s always something I’ve admired and appreciated about him,” Tatum said.

And now, as we enter the final few games of the 2021-22 NBA season, both Udoka and the Celtics have the chance to achieve something special – winning an NBA championship – where they currently hold a 2-1 series lead over the Warriors heading into game four on Friday, June 10.

Read More