Carmelo Anthony gushes about Jayson Tatum, swaps jerseys with Celtics star

Carmelo Anthony gushes about Jayson Tatum, swaps jerseys with Celtics star

Here's another perk of Jayson Tatum's ascent to stardom: He's earning the admiration of the players he once idolized.

On Sunday, it was Lakers superstar LeBron James, who called Tatum an "absolute problem" after the Boston Celtics forward dropped 41 points on Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, it was another 2003 NBA Draft alum in Carmelo Anthony, who swapped jerseys with Tatum after the 21-year-old exploded for 36 points in Boston's 118-106 win in Portland.

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"Oh man, Melo is, besides Kobe (Bryant), probably one of my top three favorite players," Tatum after the jersey swap, via NBC Sports Northwest's Jamie Hudson. "I studied him so much growing up and I’m one of his biggest fans. ... I really looked up to him."

Tatum, who was five years old when Anthony entered the league, spent time with the 10-time All-Star this summer at a Jordan Brand event in Paris.

Anthony was a fan of Tatum then. Needless to say, he's become an even bigger fan after watching the third-year forward morph into an elite player.

"He's like a little brother to me," Anthony said. "I love him. He’s a guy that’s establishing himself, as we’re all witnessing, all watching. I mean, I love his game, I love watching him play.

"I was able to have some one-on-one time with him, get a chance to know him better as a person first, but his game speaks for itself and it’ll continue to blossom."

The 35-year-old also seemed pleased Tatum held him in such high regard after seeking him out for a jersey swap.

"It makes me kind of appreciate what I do," Anthony said. "For guys to acknowledge that and see that and watch that and want to learn from that, for me, that’s what it’s all about."

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Isaiah Thomas recalls Celtics' attempt at 'Funeral Game' vs. Wizards

Isaiah Thomas recalls Celtics' attempt at 'Funeral Game' vs. Wizards

The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards had an entertaining rivalry going throughout the 2016-17 NBA season, and but it really escalated on January 24, 2017.

Wizards players showed up to the Verizon Center that night wearing all black ahead of their matchup against the C's. Washington went on to win 123-108, and John Wall dubbed it the "Celtics' funeral."

Boston didn't forget that when the two teams met months later in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

With his Celtics up 3-2 in the thrilling second-round series, Isaiah Thomas decided they were going to have a "Funeral Game" of their own. Boston showed up wearing all black, then proceeded to lose in Game 6 thanks to a game-winning 3-pointer from Wall.

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I.T. recalled the C's attempt at their own "Funeral Game" on the latest episode of NBC Sports Washington's Wizards Talk Podcast.

"I send a text out to everybody before we leave Boston," Thomas said. "Everybody wear black because we're going to a funeral and we're gonna end it [in Washington].

"Nobody knew but the players," he said. "So then everyone wore black and when everybody walked in, people started to talk. Then when we ended up losing and John hitting the game-winner and him doing the interview after he's like, 'Don't ever wear black in my city.' I'm like [busts out laughing]."

Apparently, the rivalry was even more intense than it looked. Thomas maintained close friendships with multiple players on the 2016-17 Wizards team but with all that transpired, he wasn't sure those relationships would last.

"John [Wall] is one of my close friends, like, I didn't even talk to John in the series," he said. "Markieff [Morris] is one of my close friends too from when we played on Phoenix and during that series, I didn't think we would ever talk again with how crazy it got."

Listen to the full interview below (Funeral Game talk begins at 14:14 mark):

It probably would be a more sensitive subject for I.T. had the series not ended up going in the Celtics' favor. Boston pulled off a 115-105 win with Thomas notching 29 points and 12 assists in what ended up being the Wizards' real funeral in Game 7.

That offseason, Thomas was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston. He since has played for the Lakers, Nuggets, and coincidentally, the Wizards. Now, I.T. is a free agent and Irving is teamed up with Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets.

Wall, Bradley Beal, and Ian Mahinmi are the only players from that 2016-17 Wizards team still with Washington. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown are the only ones left on the C's.

Who are the best shooting guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

Who are the best shooting guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

The shooting guard position isn’t all that different than the others when it comes to the Boston Celtics. 

They have had a slew of elite-level players to man the position through generations of great basketball, picking up individual awards, honors and of course, championships. 

So naturally, whittling down the all-time great shooting guards to just 10 for the most storied franchise in NBA history is a task that’s easier said than done. 

Click here for the gallery.