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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

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  Debate

Debate

Did Jayson Tatum's hunger for revenge against the Mavericks show he's the true leader the Celtics need?

The Boston Celtics finally took a defining leap this season. For the first time since 2008, they were the champions. Their patience with the dazzling duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown paid dividends. Moreover, they got to share the jubilation with their Celtics army at the TD Garden. However, JT wasn’t looking forward to winning it on his floor. He was seeking vengeance for his devastating experience in 2022.

Tatum, along with 2023 WNBA champion A’ja Wilson, joined the Old Man and The Three podcast show with guest host Sue Bird driving the conversation. When questioned about her experience of winning back-to-back titles, Aces’ backbone Wilson said it was a fulfilling achievement. However, her only regret was not winning on their court. In that regard, the two-time MVP was envious of Tatum. “At least you got to win yours at home,” she told him. It was only to find out that was the one thing the Celtics ace didn’t want.

USA Today via Reuters

“I would have preferred to win on the road. Just because I knew what it felt like for somebody to win a championship on my home court. I wanted to then get back. I wanted to win in Dallas. Because I have seen the Warriors celebrate on our home court and that s**t was devastating,” Tatum revealed on the collaborative podcast.

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2022 was the first experience for Tatum and Co. on the grand stage of the NBA Finals. They managed to hold a 2-1 lead, snatching a win at the indomitable Chase Center. Unfortunately, they ran into a greatly motivated Stephen Curry. The three-point assassin led them to three straight wins, the last coming at the TD Garden.

Watching the rain of confetti fall on their floor but not celebrating their win dramatically hurt the Celtics. Tatum seemingly took it to heart and wanted to exact revenge. Even though he wasn’t able to achieve the finer details, the end goal was always to win a championship. And judging by his celebrations, there wasn’t a moment Tatum wasn’t glowing with happiness.

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Jayson Tatum feels validated after the NBA championship conquest

Tatum was in full spirits when he arrived in Las Vegas for the Team USA camp. Sporting a t-shirt with his own title celebrations, he revealed that claiming bragging rights had lifted an immense weight off his shoulders. For years experts speculated whether the 26-year-old could be the anchor star on a championship team. With that achieved, Tatum feels relieved.

“Just being at the topic of discussion of so many debates or whatever it is … ‘Can he lead a team? Is he a top-five player?’ There’s still a lot of things I guess they can debate. But now I’ve done something that they can’t debate: I’ve won a championship. Having that under my belt, like obviously it’s still conversations to be had or whatever people want to say, but they always got to refer to me as an NBA champion,” the five-time All-Star told ESPN.

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The Celtics were seen as favorites from the very beginning. They didn’t disappoint in their status as the dictators of the league. Boston had the best regular season, winning 64 games (NBA best). Later, they followed it with an NBA championship to conclude what many would call a ‘perfect’ season. But while Tatum did win, he failed to win the Finals MVP. Now, like Stephen Curry, JT will be regarded as a champion, but there will be an asterisk on his ability to be the driving force of a championship season.

For now, he doesn’t care. But for how long can he suppress that craving?