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June 1, 2022

Jayson Tatum

Boston Celtics

Media Day

Q. Jayson, just seeing you celebrate getting to the Finals, watching with the Kobe armband, when you look back at moments of your life, maybe on and off the court, is there any like one moment that sticks out to you when you think about getting to the Finals?

JAYSON TATUM: One moment? It's tough to choose one moment. I just kind of revert it back to being a kid, watching the Finals every year growing up. Every kid can imagine themselves being in the NBA and being in the Finals, but actually living out your dream in real time is a surreal feeling. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself, right. I walk in, I see this backdrop and it's like, damn, I am in the Finals.

So I'm just trying to take all this in and just enjoy the moment.

Q. You mentioned different backgrounds, being here for the first time. You've been to the Conference Finals and deep in the playoffs a bunch. Does it feel different now that you're here? Does it feel like a different level of playoffs and different excitement, or does it feel like what you've been through before?

JAYSON TATUM: Definitely feels different. Definitely a lot more obligations. It definitely does feel different. I'm sure basketball is still basketball. But all the things leading up to it, unlike anything else.

Q. The other night after Game 7, you brought up the topic that people brought up the idea of splitting you and Jayson up and instead of splintering, you became closer. How and why did that happen and what is it about the relationship that you two have that allowed you two guys to make it work?

JAYSON TATUM: I honestly believe just two young, extremely competitive guys that just really want to win at all costs. So I think obviously that made us closer in the sense of we just wanted to figure it out. Not necessarily prove people wrong, but just prove that we can win and put ourselves in a position to do that.

And it was tough, right. Certain times, we were three games under .500 and 11-seed, and I'm sure not many people thought we would have gotten to this point. But there was always a sense of belief between us and the group that we were capable of figuring it out.

Q. You talked about how you were living out your dream, as a kid, watching the Finals. Do you remember watching the Warriors specifically in the Finals and what do you remember from that and what does it feel like specifically to go up against them?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, they won in 2015, right. I had just finished my junior year and David Lee was on that team. David Lee is from St. Louis and we went to the same high school. So yeah, I've been watching them for a very long time.

Q. So the earlier point, the whole idea of splintering, you and Jaylen, you guys started this year not very well, and as late as January 16th, I think, you were in 11th place. Did you have a concern at that point over the start, and then maybe this actually wasn't working out?

JAYSON TATUM: A concern, no. Were there like moments that were tough? It was just like, you know, it was very frustrating. You know, head-scratching and all those type of things. It was more so, how can we figure it out? It wasn't, like man, we can't do this. It was, we got to figure something else out.

It was tough. There were definitely some tough moments. I always remember the fun moments -- my first year going to the Conference Finals; the bubble year going to the Conference Finals when we were winning all the time.

Beginning of this year, every game was like, I don't know if we're going to win. It was a lot tougher than it should be, and that's something I wasn't used to.

Q. You guys have come close in the playoffs, but you've had your shortcomings as well. Over the course of your career, does it make you question anything that you're doing? Does it make you rethink some things? Or do you just continue on the path because you know, you kind of trust in what you're doing?

JAYSON TATUM: A little bit of both. I'll be honest, for myself, there have been times where I questioned, am I the right person to kind of lead a group like this. You know, never like doubted myself, but just moments after some of those losses and the tougher parts of the season. That's human nature to kind of question yourself and things like that. But just always stick to what you believe in and trust in the work that you've put in. You know, it can't rain forever.

Q. Is there someone you lean on in those moments you question yourself?

JAYSON TATUM: This is a group. This is a team sport. We lean on each other in those moments. As hard as it can be in those times, you've got to come closer together.

Q. You've talked about your dad pushing you, and its paid off with the gold medal and this. How has it been in the last year? Have you communicated more or less? Have you understood why he pushes you so hard? When you reached the Finals, what's the conversations like with him and to finally break through that door?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, me and my dad, we talk all the time. He challenged me in some harsh ways and tough ways as a kid. I definitely give him credit; I wouldn't be here without him and how hard he pushed me to the extreme a lot of times. It might have been tough on our father/son relationship, but I wouldn't change it because obviously the man I grew into and the player.

But yeah, since I've gotten to the NBA, he's much more of a fan, much more of a parent, not really coaching me and things like that.

He'll be at these games, especially in the Finals.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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