You hear that? That’s the groan of despair and disappointment echoing from Sixers Nation every time Jayson Tatum turns in another All-Star caliber performance like he did in Game 1 of the playoffs Monday night against the Sixers.
There’s this narrative pulsing through some circles of Philly fandom about how the Sixers could’ve had Tatum if they didn’t make a deal with Darth Vader and the Evil Empire — I mean Danny Ainge and the Celtics — to trade up and draft Markelle Fultz. But that’s not nearly as accurate as people want it to be.
We really need to please stop doing things like this to ourselves. Sometimes I think if you look up “masochist” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of a Philly sports fan with a sneer and cherry water ice stains on a Flyers sweater. We have enough pain and angst from actual Sixers faux pas (the Moses Malone trade, Charles Barkley’s exit, the Andrew Bynum deal) than to let a false narrative color what turned out to be one of the worst decisions in franchise history — drafting Fultz.
As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Noah Levick pointed out, if we take Ainge at his word, the Celtics GM would have drafted Tatum anyway. You have to give the Celtics' brass some credit. Ainge and company showed the propensity to go against the grain at the top of the draft and take the player they thought fit their team best by selecting Jaylen Brown the year before with the third overall pick.
The “We could have had Tatum” storyline seems plausible, but the truth probably looks more like this: Bryan Colangelo wanted Fultz. Ainge exploited that desire and leveraged it into getting the player he wanted (Tatum) by moving down in the draft and securing a future draft pick in the process.
Sounds like the old banana in the tailpipe to me.