Tristan Thompson idolized Kevin Garnett and notably rooted for the Boston Celtics during their 2010 NBA Finals series vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, he gets a chance to participate in the historic rivalry.
The Celtics will host the defending champion Lakers on Saturday night, and Thompson is excited to face off against his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James and Co. The veteran big man joined Chris Forsberg on a brand new Celtics Talk Podcast to share his thoughts on joining the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, as well as his early impressions of his time with the C's.
"I'm excited, of course," Thompson said. "I think it's a cup half full, because there's no fans in the arena and that's what makes the rivalry even greater because you have all walks of life and history of Massachusetts and Boston fans in the arena, whether it's a young kid that watched Jaylen [Brown] have a big dunk against LeBron [James] or someone older like our parents that watched Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird. So that's what I miss the most.
"Of course it's always fun playing against 'Bron, but I'm definitely going to be missing the fans more than anything else."
Thompson will get to go against his ex-teammate LeBron James, who he won a championship with in Cleveland five years ago. He opened up on what it's like to go up against an all-time great who continues to dominate at age 36.
"It's always fun," Thompson said. "At the end of the day, he's the best player on the planet and arguably one of the best players to ever play this game, so to go against a great player in Boston wearing the green and him wearing the Lakers gold, it's going to be a bloodbath."
Fortunately for Thompson, he'll have plenty of help on his side when he faces off against LeBron. The 29-year-old explained what has impressed him most about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown since teaming up with the Celtics' young stars.
"Just their work ethic," he said. A lot of talented players that I've been across, they definitely work on their game but these guys work on it at another level. They're in the gym getting extra shots after for an extra hour. ... That's their routine and it reminds me a lot with 'Bron, Kyrie [Irving] and even crazy to say, Collin Sexton another kid where he's always in the gym. That's why good things come these guys' way, because they put the time in and effort in."
Celtics-Lakers is set for an 8:30 p.m. ET tip-off. Be sure to tune in to Celtics Pregame Live on NBC Sports Boston at 7:30 p.m. for a preview of the matchup, plus the interview with Thompson.
Also in the new episode: Phil Perry airs his grievances on Marcus Smart. How can the Celtics improve defensively? And a complete C's-Lakers preview.