Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum’s nickname is Taco Jay, so it’s almost inevitable that he was going to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge at State Farm All-Star Saturday night beating out Atlanta Hawks rookie gunslinger Trae Young with a half court heave at the buzzer for the win.
NO HE DIDN’T!” @jaytatum0 hit the half-court bomb to defeat Trae Young and win the #TacoBellSkills challenge! 😱 https://t.co/5NMz3h4Ajt
“I’m going to call Taco Bell tomorrow and tell them I need a deal,” Tatum told the Shadow League.“ I need to be on the commercial. I love tacos. I’m going to tell Taco Bell I need a deal.”
Tatum, just 20 years old, has had an up and down year with the return of Kyrie Irving, which has led to a decrease in shot attempts and touches. But Taco Jay’s 30 points in the Rising Stars Game on Friday night and his dramatic Skills Challenge win (despite his passing difficulties) is a reminder to those who might have forgotten that he has an all-around game that can match up with the elite players in the NBA.
“It’s been a great weekend, a lot better than last year. I played well yesterday,” said Tatum. “We won, so that was good. We lost last year. And I got an opportunity to participate in Saturday night this year, which I didn’t last year, I get to leave with some hardware. So it was a successful weekend.”
Tatum disposed of Mike Conley and then moved through his bracket, defeating Nikola Jokic in the semifinal.
@jaytatum0 takes down Mike Conley to move on to the #TacoBellSkills semifinals! 👀 https://t.co/6ZQbku6Fmq
“He’s a character guy” Tatum said of Jokic, who refused to give Tatum dap after the L. “He’s a funny guy. We were just having a lot of fun, joking out there.”
Jokic even tried some gamesmanship but it didn’t help.
Nikola Jokic made Jayson Tatum take the left side of the court… and then he lost! #nbaskillschallenge https://t.co/kLKlm8Xkns
Taco Jay, the former Duke player who made a name for himself by leading Boston to the Easter Conference Championship last season, where they fell to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavs in seven games, didn’t steamroll the competition. In fact, he kept falling behind each round.
“That was not the plan, “ Tatum told reporters in the locker room after the competition. I couldn’t get the pass down on the first try, but I wanted to win.”
For a minute, Tatum looked like he was going to lose to Young.
“The previous two rounds, the guy was ahead of me,” Tatum said. “Figured I’d let him get a shot attempt so I could get closer to the three-point line. I didn’t want to give Trae a chance. I didn’t know I was going to hit the shot, but I had to give myself a chance and throw it up there.”
Tatums’ Hail Mary went in before Young’s and the rest is Skills Challenge history.
“I just seen he was getting close, about to shoot it,” Tatum said. So I thought I’d better at least attempt to get a shot up.”
What’s Tatum going to do with the trophy?
So to recap today’s events: – Duke Lacrosse beats No. 5 Denver – Duke Baseball beats Lehigh – Duke Basketball beats NC State – Jayson Tatum wins the NBA Skills Challenge 💙😈A GREAT DAY TO BE A BLUE DEVIL😈💙
“My mom likes to steal all my trophies and past jerseys. She has all my Dukes jerseys and state championships. So I’ll let her get this one, too.”