Celtics

Celtics

Remember when Jayson Tatum became an NBA superstar?

It was about two months ago when the Boston Celtics forward went on an absolute tear, averaging 30.7 points over 12 games in the month of February.

It was also about two months ago when Tatum learned he'd made the 2020 NBA All-Star Game for the first time in his career.

That's no coincidence according to Tatum, who admitted to CLNS Media's Jeff Goodman an obsession over making the All-Star team impacted his focus prior to February.

"Early in the season, I put so much pressure on myself mentally," Tatum said on Goodman's "Good 'N Plenty" podcast. "Obviously, I wanted to win. I wanted us to be a really good team, but I also thought about making the All-Star Game every day."

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Tatum admitted to texting his shooting coach, Drew Hanlen, after both bad and good games to wonder how they affected his All-Star stock.

"Every time I had a bad game I remember I would text Drew and I'd be like, ‘Drew, I don’t think I’m gonna make it anymore' and he’d be like, 'Bro, relax,' " "And then I would have a good game and I’d be like, 'Bro, I think I’m gonna make it.’ "

 

Tatum recalled a particularly ugly performance in early November -- more than two months before All-Star rosters came out -- that made him fret.

"When I went 1-for-18 (against the Dallas Mavericks), I was in my head like: 'Everybody is going to think about this one. I’m not going to make it.' "

It's sometimes easy to forget Tatum is a 22-year-old kid who can caught up focusing on the wrong things. Fortunately for the Celtics, Tatum made the cut -- and has been playing like a bona-fide All-Star ever since.

"It was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders when I found out," Tatum said. "Ever since then I’ve just played a lot more relaxed and a lot more free, and I think that had a lot to do with it."

The coronavirus pandemic has put Tatum's coming-out party on hold, but it's refreshing to know he's aware that worrying about individual accolades impacted his game.