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May 29, 2022

Jayson Tatum

Boston Celtics

Game 7: Postgame

Celtics 100, Heat 96

Q. Again, you were eerily confident after Game 6, just like you were in Milwaukee after Game 5. Why? What happened? What's it like to reach this pinnacle, to get over this hump that you've been able to -- not been able to get over the last few years?

JAYSON TATUM: I don't know, I just feel like -- if you ask the question, how confident are you, I just feel like as a competitor, there's only one way to answer that question. Not trying to be arrogant or anything, but I just really believe in myself, I really believe in our team.

It's the biggest game of the season, of my career, and I just had faith that we were going to give it all we had, regardless of the outcome.

But it feels great, honestly. Some of those guys been to the Eastern Conference Finals four times, it's my third time. Obviously we know we want to win a championship, right, but to get over this hump in the fashion that we did it, obviously we took the toughest route possible, and then to win a Game 7 to go to a championship on the road is special.

Q. They kept coming at you guys throughout the game and you were able to hang on and pull it out at the end?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, losing my first year, and losing to these guys in the bubble, I think going through those tough times helped us grow, helped us learn. Once we get in that situation again, we respond differently. I think that's what it was today.

We would get up a big lead -- they're a great team, well-coached, and they would come back, but we kept responding, and we kept the lead and kept making winning basketball plays, everybody, and it was big. It really was.

Q. You guys have been through a lot, like you said, Jaylen and Marcus have been to four Conference Finals, you've been to three. In these Playoffs you guys beat the teams that have beat you the last three years in the Playoffs and ended your season. Do you think those collective experiences over the past two seasons all helped you guys get to where you are now?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, I truly do. In the moment when you lose those series, obviously it hurts and it's tough. But you never forget it.

I think that's what we all have in common, that we've all been through those tough times and we remember how that felt.

We didn't want to have that feeling again leaving here tonight. We left it all out on the floor. Obviously we got it done.

Q. You're the first player obviously to win that Larry Bird trophy named after a guy whose records you've broken and continue to chase. How does it feel to have won that trophy and just the fact that it's named after a Celtic great that you're trying to live up to?

JAYSON TATUM: You know, it's an honor. It still doesn't even seem real right now. I'm just extremely happy and grateful for all of this. Regardless of how long I've been in the league, I'm not too far removed from when I was in high school and when I was dreaming about moments like this.

I still feel like a kid at some times that I'm truly living out my dream. I thank God every day just to be in this position to be able to do that. To be the first person to win this award, obviously after Larry Bird, it still hasn't like sunk in yet.

I'm going to take it home and show Deuce tomorrow and enjoy it.

Q. You also wore the Kobe arm band today; what went into your thinking to wear that in this game in particular?

JAYSON TATUM: You know, obviously that was my idol. That was my inspiration. That was my favorite player. The shoes I wore, been wearing the last couple games were dedicated to him.

Today before I took my nap -- I do it sometimes, I was watching some film and some moments from him and his career. This is the biggest game of my career thus far, and I wanted to wear that arm band to honor him and kind of share that moment in a way.

Q. I know at times you've mentioned or you've addressed the topic, but now that you're in the Finals, what gave you the faith in this team at 18-21, and what were the things that led you to believe that this was possible?

JAYSON TATUM: It was tough. Like truly. There were definitely some tough moments throughout the season where -- not doubt yourself but maybe question, right, question, can we do it? You start to realize how hard it is to win. You start to question yourself; are you good enough to be that guy?

But I think you just trust in yourself, trust in the work that you put in to get to this point and continue to work, and it can't rain forever. Good days were coming.

I felt that we were -- whatever it was, one step away from clicking throughout the season, and obviously once we did, we haven't looked back.

Q. Was there a moment that you remember that things started to shift?

JAYSON TATUM: I mean, the toughest moment for me was blowing that 25-point lead at New York, and then RJ Barrett hit the game-winning shot over me. That was the lowest moment for me. But I think shortly after that, things started to turn around.

Q. I talked to Marcus, and he mentioned that outside people were thinking there was turmoil amongst you guys. How was that in those early moments able to bring you together to do this, and how close are you because of that?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, I think all of those things helped, from saying that we need to split the group up, get rid of somebody or me and JB can't play together, that fueled us to figure it out and not run from it, that we -- obviously I'm going to be here for a while, and that we trust in each other, and we had to be better.

So yeah, I think instead of separating, we became closer, and I think it's shown throughout the season.

Q. Obviously this is a big accomplishment for all of you guys, especially after missing out on a few times, but you're now playing a team that's kind of been there and done that. How do you make sure, especially like as a leader, that you guys aren't satisfied with this and that that bigger goal is in front of you but you're going to go and get it still?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, I think -- I mean, this wasn't the goal all season, right. That was just a step in getting where we want to get to. Obviously this is a big accomplishment. We haven't been to the championship yet.

I think it's all right to be proud of ourselves today and enjoy this. We're not satisfied. We know we've still got a long way to go.

But I think it's all right to enjoy this tonight and be happy because it's hard. It's not easy -- clearly this is my first time being in the championship. It is not easy.

We know we have a tough task ahead. They've been there many a times, they've won many a times. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. You were talking about questioning yourself but then having to trust yourself and push through. Especially in this game, this was a night where crunch time, you start hitting those shots, you start finding ways to get through their defense, after struggling with that even the last few series. How big a breakthrough moment was that for you being able to solve whatever they threw at you?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, I think in those moments, you don't want to leave and feel like you could have done something more, so I think -- I came in with the mindset today that I was willing to do anything it took to win this game, however that looked. We all talked about it.

But I know especially for me, I came into the game, the only thing that mattered was winning. Y'all weren't going to talk about how many points or how many shots I missed if we lost. It was all about, did you get it done or not? I knew that coming in today and the group knew that.

I think coming in here and getting it done was big.

Q. We keep asking about the turnaround and those points where things turned around, but how close was this team to not turning it around? How close was it to just actually giving in to all of the stuff that was happening and not getting to that point where you said, all right, we're going to do something?

JAYSON TATUM: Honestly, I don't -- I never felt that. I know what a good group essentially feels like. I felt that all along.

Everybody believed, and I think that was -- that's half the battle, everybody believing and wanting to for the right reasons. It was just a matter of time, honestly.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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