Celtics

Jayson Tatum forges key relationships at memorable first All-Star Game

Jayson Tatum forges key relationships at memorable first All-Star Game

CHICAGO -- In the days leading up to Sunday night’s 69th NBA All-Star game, Jayson Tatum, playing for Team LeBron, was intent on going at teammate and member of Team Giannis, Kemba Walker, every chance he could get. 

True to form, Tatum went right at Walker moments into the second quarter when both were on the floor together. 

He tried to take him into the post, but Walker wasn’t having it. 

Tatum then pulled up for a fadeaway jumper that was off the mark. 

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Chalk that up to one of the many memories Tatum will take away from his first All-Star appearance. 

Tatum would finish with six points while Walker tallied 23 as one of the key performers in Team Giannis' comeback that fell just short as Team LeBron escaped with a 157-155 win with the game-winning score coming on an Anthony Davis free throw. 

But when it comes to the NBA All-Star game, points, rebounds and assists mean little. 

More important are the relationships that are formed and in many instances, strengthened at such events. 

Tatum has been one of the players in his age group for years, so there are a number of All-Stars that he has had a prior connection to, prior to tonight’s game. 

But the one that has been arguably most important to his growth this season, has been that between him and Walker. 

“Kemba, that's my guy,” Tatum said. “Our relationship and friendship has grown a lot over this season so far, from USA basketball to playing on the Celtics to experiencing All-Star together. So it's been a good ride. We're enjoying it.”

Walker is playing in his fourth All-Star game, a player whose status among the NBA’s elite is well cemented. 

Prior to this season, Walker talked often about the growth he saw in Tatum’s game when they were Team USA teammates, along with fellow Celtics Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. 

Recognizing Tatum’s talent, that’s one thing. 

But more than anything, Walker has made a point of encouraging Tatum to continue striving for greatness, and not worry about how that will impact him.

“I’m good. I know who I am and what I can do in this league,” Walker told NBC Sports Boston recently. “Jayson’s really good and part of my job here, is to let him know how great he is and do whatever I can to help him be great all the time.”

During an interview with NBC Sports Boston during All-Star weekend, Walker echoed those sentiments about Tatum. 

“Like I’ve been saying all year, he’s a special talent,” Walker said. “He deserves to be here. I’m happy I’m able to share this one with him; especially his first one. This is the one he’s never going to forget, ever. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

This story shows just how excited Kemba Walker was to become a Celtic

This story shows just how excited Kemba Walker was to become a Celtic

Boston Celtics fans were ecstatic last summer to find out Kemba Walker would be their new starting point guard, and the feeling was mutual.

After Walker agreed to join the C's on a four-year, $141 million max deal, he couldn't help but tell the world. Walker's sister, Sharifa Nesbitt, described Kemba's excitement upon joining the Celtics in an excellent feature written by Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

When Walker and his sister returned to Charlotte on June 27, his decision had been all but made. A man at the airport asked if he was going to re-sign with the Hornets, and Walker told him that he was going to become a Celtic, breaking the news himself in a busy terminal.

'He was telling whoever would ask,” Sharifa said with a chuckle. 'He was just happy.'

It's been all smiles for Walker on the court during the 2019-20 season as well. The 29-year-old has quickly become the heart and soul of the C's and has drastically improved the team's chemistry after last year's tumultuous campaign.

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After what Walker went through with the Charlotte Hornets, it's no surprise he was so thrilled to join a perennial contender like Boston. Charlotte only had two winning seasons since drafting Walker in 2011.

Walker is averaging 20.0 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.1 rebounds through 50 games played this season, and he'll be a huge factor in the Celtics' success if and when the NBA season finally resumes.

You can read Himmelsbach's full feature on Walker here.

Celtics' Marcus Smart makes perfect comment about NBA's HORSE challenge

Celtics' Marcus Smart makes perfect comment about NBA's HORSE challenge

We'll finally get to see some basketball action -- sort of -- when NBA's "HORSE Challenge" begins Sunday night.

Unfortunately, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart won't be participating despite being a master trick-shot artist.  He did, however, chime in with an idea for a contest he'd love to be a part of.

"Let’s play H-O-R-S-E with defense and see how that works out ;)," he tweeted Thursday night.

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Sounds right up the potential Defensive Player of the Year's alley.

Although Smart won't get the chance to show off his trick-shot prowess, one former Celtic will. Paul Pierce is set to be one of the eight contestants in the competition.

Smart tested positive for the coronavirus last month, but he has since been cleared. The 26-year-old recently appeared on CNN to discuss the importance of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic and donated his plasma to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project.