May 14, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen (20), small forward Paul Pierce (34) and power forward Kevin Garnett (5) react as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter in game two of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics 82-81. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

After being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft and putting together a sensational rookie campaign, Jayson Tatum figures to be a big part of the Boston Celtics’ future.

A younger Jayson Tatum may have found that hard to fathom.

“I used to hate Boston,” Tatum recently revealed on The Ringer’s The Bill Simmons Podcast.

His reasoning? The Black Mamba was his idol.

“No, my favorite player was Kobe,” Tatum said. “Even before then, like when I was like 4 or 5, I’d just always tell—my mom would ask me what I wanted to be when I got older. And I would just be like, ‘I wanna be Kobe.’ She’d be like, ‘You wanna be in the NBA?’ ‘No, like, I wanna be Kobe.’ He was just my favorite player. I had his posters, all his jerseys. That was my guy.”

It may be tough for Celtics fans to hear that their young phenom used to hate Boston and grew up idolizing a Laker. But it’s important to remember Bryant was one of the top players in the league throughout Tatum’s childhood.

The 20-year-old was born in March 1998, which was near the end of the Mamba’s second season in the NBA—and he was only just getting started. He would go on to win an NBA MVP award, five championships (while going 1-1 against Boston in the Finals), two Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles and four All-Star Game MVP awards in 18 selections.

He would retire after 20 seasons with the Lakers while holding third place on the league’s all-time scoring list with 33,643 career points.

Even the most diehard Celtics fan can admit that Bryant’s career was something special, so it’s easy to see why a young player like Tatum wanted to be the next Kobe.

For a loyal Kobe fan, there was nothing better than to have his game analyzed by the Mamba himself:

“Yeah, I watched it like 70 times,” Tatum admitted. “That was my favorite player ever.”

Better yet, Bryant even took time during his retirement to individually work with the Celtics star on his game. That allowed Tatum to get a feel for the Mamba mentality, via The Bill Simmons Podcast:

“I got a chance to just sit down and talk to him first. You know, I got to meet with him. And we talked about a lot of things, basketball-related, non-basketball-related. I tried to get into his mind and see how he went about things. Just trying to get better each year, what he wanted to improve year after year so he didn’t backtrack or be complacent. His will to just be the best and just striving to get better every year. That’s one thing I found interesting. When we were working out, his thing was just trying to break the game down and make it as simple as possible. He said the year he averaged 35, all he worked on in the summertime was pivot foot, trying to play off both pivots. He said, ‘That’s all I did for the entire summer. Obviously, I expanded off a move from each pivot and a counter move to that.’ But he was like, ‘The entire summer that’s all I worked on.'”

Don’t worry, Celtics fans. He may still be a Kobe fan, but he no longer has a hatred for Boston.

“No, I love Boston now,” Tatum added.

Courtesy: Bleacher Report


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