For many NBA rookies, it can be pretty awe-inspiring to compete against star players who you've admired all your life.
It sure sounds like Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum felt this way when he played against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road as a rookie during the 2017-18 season.
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The Thunder, at that time, had a veteran-laden roster that included star forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony -- two versatile wings with an offensive game similar to Tatum's. Tatum recently talked about his favorite rookie moments, and he mentioned a quick interaction with Anthony that really hit him.
Bucket recognize bucket ♨️ pic.twitter.com/TCKtIrtbnJ— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 6, 2020
The Celtics trailed the Thunder by 18 points at halftime that night, but thanks to a 22-point second half performance from point guard Kyrie Irving, Boston prevailed with a 101-94 victory to extend its win streak to seven games. Tatum scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds in 30 minutes of action.
The admiration between Tatum and Anthony goes both ways. Earlier this year, Anthony said he loves watching Tatum play and noted the Celtics forward is "like a little brother to me."
Tatum had a brilliant rookie campaign and helped lead the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The 22-year-old forward has taken a huge step toward superstardom in the current 2019-20 season, during which he made his first NBA All-Star Game appearance in February. He also won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for February after averaging 30.7 points per game over that stretch.
If Tatum's career trajectory keeps rising, he could someday be a veteran superstar who rookies are really excited to play against for the first time.