Celtics’ Jayson Tatum Reveals He Idolized Kawhi Leonard and Paul George Since Middle School

Published 02/06/2021, 12:10 AM EST
Feb 5, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is defended by Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) in the third quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The Boston Celtics’ road trip takes them to Los Angeles tonight as they face the LA Clippers. For Celtics’ young star Jayson Tatum, it is a special game, as he goes up against his idols Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

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Prior to the game, he spoke about how he has been looking up to them since he was in middle school.

He said, “(Paul George is) one of the best players in the league (along with) Kawhi. Both two-way defenders and elite scorers. And just guys who’ve been doing this for a long time from when I was in middle school. (They’re) guys I have a great deal of respect for. Especially games like this, you love to play and compete with guys who are some of the best.

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“They’re guys I used to look up to since I was in middle school or high school, and now I get a chance to compete against them and earn their respect as peers.”

How does Jayson Tatum feel about being compared to Paul George? Would he go to the All-Star Game if he's selected?

Catch @tvabby's full one-on-one with Tatum on Pregame Live tonight at 9p. (Presented by @TDBank_US)
🤳Stream it here: https://t.co/A4MF3fT4OR pic.twitter.com/FywfKTZCSO

— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 6, 2021

Jayson Tatum has a tough job against the Clippers

For most of the season, Jaylen Brown was leading the scoring for the Celtics. Prior to this game, Tatum was averaging 26.8 points per game compared to Brown’s 26.4 points per game.

This shows how important Brown has become to the team. So when the Celtics announced that he would miss the game because of a knee injury, the responsibility increased for Tatum.

Dec 23, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) attempts a basket in between Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the second half at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics are already dealing with a struggling Kemba Walker. Since his return from injury, he has been poor, averaging 15 points per game while shooting a miserable 36% from the field. This only makes it tougher for Tatum.

By the end of the third quarter, Tatum was carrying the Celtics’ offense, scoring 27 points. He shot 10-21 from the field and 4-8 from three. This is exactly what they needed from him in such circumstances, and he is stepping up.

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JAYSON TATUM 💪 pic.twitter.com/Qn2egqZpiC

— ESPN (@espn) February 6, 2021

Walker’s struggles continued, shooting just 5-13 from the field in three quarters. But sophomore Carsen Edwards stepped up and poured in 13 points, and he shot 5-8 from the field. The Celtics were leading by seven points and kept fighting despite missing their second-best player.

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The road trip doesn’t end here for the Celtics, who face the Suns and the Jazz next, before returning home to host the Raptors on Thursday.

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Aaron Mathew

1468 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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