Why Jayson Tatum's historic All-Star Game is a good omen for Celtics

Jayson Tatum

Could Jayson Tatum's efforts in a meaningless game pave the way for a much more meaningful accomplishment in June?

The Boston Celtics star stole the show at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night in Salt Lake City, scoring an All-Star-record 55 points on 22-of-31 shooting (10-18 from 3-point range) to earn the Kobe Bryant Trophy as the game's MVP in Team Giannis' victory over Team LeBron.

Tatum admitted he made a concerted effort to break the All-Star scoring record and was extra motivated to win the award named for his late idol in Bryant.

NBA All-Star Game highlights: Tatum and Brown put on a show

"I found out midway through the fourth (quarter about the record)," Tatum said, via ESPN.com. "I think I had like 49 and Dame (Lillard) was like, 'Yo, the record's 52.' He was like, 'Go get it.'

"It's extremely special to me. My first All-Star Game was in Chicago in 2020 when they renamed the MVP after (Bryant), and I remember telling myself that someday I got to get one of those."

While you may roll your eyes at Tatum chasing stats in an exhibition game, there is one interesting trend that should please Celtics fans. Here's a look at the last five NBA All-Star Game MVPs and how their teams fared that season:

  • 2022: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors -- won NBA Finals (named NBA Finals MVP) 
  • 2021: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks -- won NBA Finals (named NBA Finals MVP)
  • 2020: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers -- lost Western Conference Semifinals
  • 2019: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors -- lost NBA Finals
  • 2018: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers -- lost NBA Finals

The last two All-Star Game MVPs have gone on to win the NBA championship (and win Finals MVP to boot), while four of the last five ASG MVPs have reached the Finals. So, Tatum could extend that streak to three if he helps the Celtics raise Banner 18 in June.


Tatum also became the eighth player in Celtics history to win All-Star Game MVP -- and three of the last five winners on that list also won titles (Tiny Archibald in 1981, Bill Russell in 1963 and Bob Cousy in 1957).

None of this guarantees Tatum and the Celtics a spot in the NBA Finals, of course. But it's a good reminder that having one of the best players in the world who can shine on any stage goes a long way toward raising a banner.

Boston actually has two of those players, as Jaylen Brown led Team LeBron with 35 points and 14 rebounds.

Sunday indeed was a treat for Celtics fans, who watched their two young stars put on a show in Salt Lake City and hopefully set the stage for a deep playoff run this spring.