After Tom Brady's departure, is Jayson Tatum the next face of Boston sports?

After Tom Brady's departure, is Jayson Tatum the next face of Boston sports?

In the aftermath of Tom Brady’s sobering announcement that he’s moving on from the New England Patriots after two decades, is Celtics forward Jayson Tatum the new face of Boston’s sports?

Probably. But he’s still got some work to do.

See, it’s undeniable that, given the recent departures of Brady and Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, Tatum might be the most recognizable active All-Star in the region, at least among younger players with the potential to blossom even further. Easy there, Bruins fans, we’re well aware of the talent on your squad, and we’ll listen to your argument that David Pastrnak belongs in that conversation, too.

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NBA players are simply more recognizable than most helmet-clad athletes and the just-turned 22-year-old Tatum almost certainly has more facial recognition among casual observers. It helps, too, that, with a surge before the NBA season was suspended last week, Tatum muscled his way into the conversation about the future faces of the league, replete with a stamp of approval from LeBron James.

Any young player truly looking to take over Brady’s throne, however, is missing one key ingredient: A championship. Given the absurd bar that local stars Brady, David Ortiz, and Paul Pierce set over the past two decades, you have to deliver banners and trophies before you can truly rule this city. It’s not quite enough anymore to simply be one of the best in your sport.

What seems fair to suggest is that, with Tatum and Jaylen Brown as focal points, and especially with both players soon to be locked up deep into the future, the Celtics are best positioned among Boston’s big four for a long sustained run as championship contenders, at least based on each team's current core. Whether it’s Tatum, or Tatum and Brown, the door is open for Celtics youngsters to stake their claim to a vacant throne.

Tatum and Brown, despite all the playoff success early in their careers, must still prove they can thrive on the big stage. It wasn’t just the rings that defined Ortiz and Brady, it was how they delivered in key moments.

Look, it’s not easy to carve out a spot in the pantheon on Boston’s best athletes. Not when you see those pictures of Bill Russell struggling to hold his 11 championship rings, or Brady needing two hands to display all his Super Bowl jewelry. Even just taking the baton as the face of the region for a brief jog is a heavy crown to wear.

But someone has to take it now and Tatum seems like the most obvious choice. Will it be his green No. 0 jersey that fills all of Boston’s sports venues? Will he be the sort of player that Boston fans roar for when he makes an offseason appearance at another team’s games?

Much of that will hinge on what Tatum and the Celtics accomplish moving forward. A ring unlocks the full benefits of the throne. Until then, he’s simply the closest to the clasp.

Classic Celtics: Watch thrilling finishes during 'Iconic Moments Week'

Classic Celtics: Watch thrilling finishes during 'Iconic Moments Week'

The Boston Celtics have won 371 playoff games over their storied franchise history -- and a few stand out above the rest.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series will continue during the week of Monday, May 25, by re-broadcasting five more C's playoff games that feature "iconic moments" we still remember to this day.

We'll take you as far back as the 1970s to a triple-overtime thriller against the Phoenix Suns and also re-live some recent heroics during Boston's latest championship run in 2008.

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Here's the full lineup for "Iconic Moments Week," which includes a new re-broadcast every night of the week starting at 8 p.m. ET:

'Iconic Moments' Week

Monday, May 25: Celtics vs. Pacers, 1991 First Round Game 5
Larry Bird returns from injuring his cheek in the first half to lead the Celtics to a playoff victory over the Indiana Pacers.   

Tuesday, May 26: Celtics vs. Lakers, 2008 NBA Finals Game 1
Paul Pierce exits in a wheelchair but returns later in the game to help the C's beat the rival Lakers at TD Garden. 

Wednesday, May 27: Celtics vs. Pistons, 1987 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5
Larry Bird steals the game, literally, for the Celtics in a pivotal Game 5.   

Thursday, May 28: Celtics vs. Lakers, 1984 NBA Finals Game 2
Gerald Henderson steals James Worthy’s inbound pass with 13 seconds left in the game to tie it, and the Celtics win in overtime to tie the series.  

Friday, May 29: Celtics vs. Suns, 1976 NBA Finals Game 5 
In what many call "the greatest game ever played," the Celtics outlast the Suns in three overtimes.

The action begins Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston, where Brian Scalabrine will be joined by several key players in these games for additional color commentary.

Here's how to watch:

When: May 25, May 26, May 27, May 28 and May 29, 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and the MyTeams app (except May 25)

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Danny Ainge reveals why he initially rejected Celtics GM job offer

Danny Ainge reveals why he initially rejected Celtics GM job offer

Seventeen years ago, the Boston Celtics hired Danny Ainge to be their executive director of basketball operations and general manager.

Getting Ainge on board wasn't an easy task, though.

After spending seven-and-a-half seasons as a player on the C's in the 1980s, one would think Ainge would pounce on the opportunity to run one of the NBA's most iconic franchises. However, that was not the case as he was comfortable with his role as an analyst on TNT's NBA broadcast.

Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca extended the job offer to Ainge twice, but he rejected it both times before finally accepting it in May of 2003. Ainge explained in more detail why he was hesitant to take the job in a recent conversation with Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

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“They (Grousbeck and Pagliuca) told me that (former Celtics president) Red (Auerbach) had recommended that they hire me,” Ainge told Washburn. “I was flattered and I told them thank you. My three older kids had graduated from high school. I have my three youngest at home, so life is a little bit different. I told them I was not interested in the job and I gave them names of people in the league and some former Celtic players they should interview.

“I didn’t jump at it. It wasn’t anything I was looking to really do. As time went on, they had come a second time and a third time while I was broadcasting. I sensed my wife was warming up to the idea. Eventually, I said yes.”

With Ainge at the helm, the Celtics later won their 17th NBA title in 2008. After the championship season, Ainge was promoted to president of basketball operations.

Seems like taking the job turned out to be the right choice.