Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics have been sidelined for over a month. And during the NBA's suspension, the C's budding superstar hasn't been able to play basketball at all.
"I haven't been able to touch a basketball since our last game at Indiana," Tatum said to Rachel Nichols on ESPN's The Jump. "I got stuff to work out at home and cardio and weights and stuff, but yeah. I haven't played basketball in a long time."
Though Tatum hadn't recently played basketball, he certainly seemed excited to have a chance to talk basketball. And Nichols asked him some entertaining questions.
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The first was about why Tatum thought James Harden should've been named MVP over Giannis Antetokounmpo last season. Tatum had mentioned that he thought Harden should've been the 2018-19 MVP in a recent Instagram Live session, and Tatum explained his thought process regarding that.
"You're splitting hairs last year when you're choosing between those two," Tatum said. "For me, James Harden, he scored 30 like 42 games in a row or something like that. And Chris Paul was hurt a lot and they were dealing with a lot of injuries. I don't remember exactly what seed they were, but what he was doing was pretty remarkable."
That's certainly a fair point. And Harden did average an NBA-best 36.1 points per game while also averaging 7.5 assists and a career-high 2.0 steals per game. As Tatum said, choosing between him and Antetokounmpo (27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 60-win season) was splitting hairs, and both definitely had a valid case for the award.
Another topic that Tatum and Nichols broached was Tatum's epic ankle-breaker against Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the season. Tatum actually downplayed how great the move was and revealed something about the play that may have impacted George.
"I remember I just came off the screen, they switched, and -- I mean, I think I stepped on his foot a little bit," Tatum said. "So, we got tangled up and he fell, and I knocked down the shot. I ain't gonna say I that I broke his ankles because I kinda stepped on his foot."
Tatum can downplay the move all he wants, but even if he did step on George's toes a little, it was still a slick-looking play. And it did a lot to keep the Celtics in the game late against one of the Western Conference's best teams.
Fans will hope that Tatum will soon have a chance to make similarly excellent plays. But the league is still facing an uncertain future amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it remains unclear if they will be able to return and complete the 2019-20 season.