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February 19, 2023

Jayson Tatum

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Team Giannis

Press Conference

Team Giannis - 184, Team LeBron - 175

Q. Jayson, how special is it to win the Kobe Bryant Award? Kobe Bryant is your all-time favorite player. You cherish the guy. What's that like to win that award on this night?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, it's extremely special for me. My first All-Star Game was in Chicago in 2020 when they renamed the MVP after him. I remember telling myself that day that I've got to get one of those before I get done.

To be able to wear my signature shoe today and break the record and take home this award of somebody that I idolized, it's a hell of a day.

Q. Jayson, did you know that 52 was the record? Were you gunning for it at the end?

JAYSON TATUM: I found out midway through the fourth. I remember running down the court. One of my assistant coaches told me. Then Dame -- I think I had, like, 49, and Dame was, like, The record is 52, go get it. I was, like, All right, I'm going to go get it.

Q. That back-and-forth with Jaylen, how was that for you? I mean, you probably have done it a lot of times in practice, but during a game, in a game with the world watching, how did that feel for you?

JAYSON TATUM: That was like another day at the office for us, right? Been on the same team for six years now. We've played countless number of one-on-one games, scrimmages against each other. We've always kind of brought the best out of each other.

So it was a normal day for us. Just millions of people watching on one of the biggest stages, so we had a little fun with it.

Q. You just mentioned the same element of fun, just touching on that one more time. You and Jaylen are such good friends. How special was it for tonight to be so big for you and be able to share that with your friend like Jaylen and everything else that came about tonight?

JAYSON TATUM: Extremely special. Three of the four times I've been an All-Star was with a teammate, two with JB, one with Kemba. Those are the best All-Stars, to share it with somebody that you spend every day of the week with essentially.

Extremely happy for him. We talked about it. Now it's go time. We have to be on the same page. We've got to have one common goal, and that's to win a championship. This was a good break for us mentally and physically, but it's time to get back to work.

Q. You said you've made the vow yourself back in 2020 that you wanted to win that award someday, the Kobe Bryant MVP. Did you tell anybody leading into this weekend that, like, I'm going for that? Any teammates, coaches, anything like that?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, I told my coaches. I told my friends. They all knew I was going to wear my shoe today, so I had a little more motivation to play well, right, in the debut of my signature shoe.

I wanted to win MVP. I didn't think I would get 55, but that's icing on the cake.

Q. How easy is it to separate your emotions playing against guys in your conference, against big rivals and then go back against them after the All-Star Game?

JAYSON TATUM: It's easy. This weekend is supposed to be fun. This is supposed to recognize guys for how well they've played in the first half of the season. It's a huge honor to be here, not only for yourself, but for your family and friends, all the NBA legends that came before you.

It's supposed to be fun. It's a lot of fun. But now it's time to get back to work.

Q. Jayson, you mentioned how this weekend is supposed to be about fun, first and foremost. But would players rather this game in particular be more defensive-focused toward the end, or, I guess, would you rather have more defensive intensity in the game or more free-flowing offense?

JAYSON TATUM: It honestly just depends. I think they've done a good job changing the ending of the game. But, you know, safety first, right? It's supposed to be fun. You don't want anybody to get injured or get hurt.

But it's always great for the game and for the fans. Especially if it comes down to the last couple of buckets, like it did in Chicago the first year. That was the most competitive All-Star Game I've been a part of, and that was incredible.

Q. With your threes falling for you today and yesterday going the way it went, were you frustrated yesterday, or how did you feel today? Were you trying to make it up for yesterday?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah. I didn't want to come to the All-Star and leave empty-handed, so I had in my mind I was going to win the MVP or the 3-Point Contest. I was leaving here with something.

Q. Jayson, a couple of weeks from your 25th birthday. You've accomplished a lot in this league. Are you taking time to take it all in? Are you able to take this all in in this short of time? Now obviously with another award.

JAYSON TATUM: I guess I'm not 19 anymore, but yeah. I say it all the time. I'm extremely grateful and blessed to be in this situation. I'm not too far removed from being a kid in St. Louis with essentially a ball and a dream and dreaming about these moments of being here.

And living out that dream in reality is hard to describe. I try not to really think about the things I've accomplished. I never want to get complacent. I'm always chasing something, chasing more.

But I thank God every day that I'm in this position that he surrounded me with great friends and family and put me in the right position and just try to have fun. Just remember what I'm doing it for.

Q. Jayson, you just mentioned the stretch run here in the final seven weeks. What have you learned throughout your career that's going to be necessary for you to do over this stretch run to be in the position you want to be heading into the postseason?

JAYSON TATUM: I think historically, or at least since I've been in the league, right, the team that has kind of clicked in this last stretch, has kind of peaked and played their best of the season going into the playoffs usually is the team that wins it all. So this stretch is important.

You want to be as healthy as possible going into the playoffs. You want to be playing your best basketball, individually and as a group. So that's what we're trying to do.

Q. What did you think of the new drafting process for All-Star, and do you want to become a captain one day, or would that be too much pressure?

JAYSON TATUM: It was cool. I didn't know what to expect, but it wasn't too bad. I was just hoping I didn't get picked last. But it's all fun and good for the fans.

Yeah, one day when LeBron and Giannis stop getting all the fan votes and I start getting some more, hopefully I'll be a captain one day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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