Celtics star Jayson Tatum knows legacy will be cemented by achievement and victory

“The league gets younger every year and I’m still only 23, but this is my fifth time at the All-Star, third time at the All-Star Game. I’ve been around the block several times.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be here every year since I’ve been in the league. I think that’s one of my goals, to always be All-Star. I remember my first year and my second year, especially after my second year, saying that I wouldn’t come back unless I was in the game. I have been lucky enough to succeed since. »

If he stays healthy and stays a Celtic, Tatum could break multiple franchise records as well as see his No. 0 elevated to the rafters of TD Garden or whatever Boston’s hypothetical new arena is called.

Tatum had no idea the Celtics had released their all-time 75-man squad and also had no idea he had received votes for the 15-man squad. He didn’t make it to the club – Paul Pierce, 44, was the youngest in the squad – but was flattered that some fans and members of the media thought he was already a Celtic great all time.

“It’s amazing to hear,” he said during Saturday’s All-Star media session. “But everyone I’m sure is on that list, has accomplished so much, won championships, MVPs and things like that. I still have a lot to do to be in this conversation but for some people to think I deserve it, I appreciate it. These guys who came before me and worked hard. I have some catching up to do.

There’s definitely a humility and respect that Tatum has for Celtics tradition and those who paved the way to success before him. He will remain after the game on March 13 when Kevin Garnett retires his number 5, the second ceremony Tatum has attended in five years.

He was there four years ago when Paul Pierce saw his No. 34 immortalized.

What the Celtics – perhaps intentionally – convey to current and potential players by honoring past players and recognizing their tradition is that those who wear green and thrive in green will be lastingly appreciated for their efforts. .

“I was there when Paul retired his number. It was an incredible moment,” Tatum said. “Paul is someone I looked up to, someone I studied a lot and someone I really got to know over the years, but KG [Garnett] was my favorite Celtic of all time. I don’t play like him. I don’t act like him but you can appreciate people who are different from you. And his swag and his attitude and what he brought to the game that I’ve always been a fan of. I can not wait to be there.

Tatum immediately grabbed No. 0 after Avery Bradley was traded to Detroit, and if he continues his career in Boston, he will be immortalized as Pierce and Garnett. It’s true that he didn’t consider the possibility, especially since the Celtics didn’t reach the NBA Finals during his tenure and championships are unofficial prerequisites for retired numbers.

So there’s even more motivation for Tatum to win in Boston. He reiterated that he wanted to win championships rather than individual awards.

“Yeah, who wouldn’t want their number taken down,” he said. “Obviously I think everyone should aspire to have their shirt hanging in the rafters because it ultimately means you’ve achieved something special. Hopefully I can stay long enough and accomplish a lot of special things. I I really haven’t thought about it much, taking my shirt off, I think about being more in the moment. That would be amazing.

What Tatum said matured him is fatherhood. Jayson Jr. or “Deuce” was born two months into Tatum’s rookie year with the Celtics. Deuce has become a popular figure in Boston, a fixture at Celtics home games and tugging on dad’s leg in postgame interviews. When Deuce was posted on the Garden’s video board on “Kid’s Night,” the crowd cheered vigorously.

“I certainly didn’t expect this,” Jayson said. “It’s cool and he likes it, every time he comes to a home game people cheer for him when they see him and they say his name and he comes to the road games and he’s at the All Star He has his own personality.

“I think that’s the advantage of having a child at 19. We grow together. And I think it’s cool that he can see me as my career progresses and he’s getting older now, remembering certain things and interacting, so that’s definitely a plus.

Tatum said his career growth became more enjoyable because Deuce was getting old enough to remember and digest iconic dad moments, like the All-Star Game. What’s compelling and also heartening for the Celtics faithful is that Tatum wants his son to be remembered more as a winner than an All-Star.

The Celtics are rising in the Eastern Conference and Tatum has already appeared in two conference finals, but the ultimate goal is to play in late June, being the cornerstone that brings the No. 18 title to Boston. This is the number Tatum is consumed with now.

“A competitor, someone who always wanted to win,” he said. “Every time he comes to the game, I give everything in my power to help us win. As you get older, in team sports, the most important thing is to win and all the rest will follow.


Gary Washburn is a columnist for The Globe. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.

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