‘What They Gonna Say Now?’: Jayson Tatum Gave An Historic Clinic On How A Superstar Sacrifices To Win NBA Title

Winning championships takes sacrifice. The superstars who win NBA championships often make concessions in their game and stats in order to reach the pinnacle of success as a basketball player. 

Titles are what separates the GOATS from the very good players. Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum understood this better than anyone in these NBA Finals. Sometimes, when mainstream media and the social media moshpit is looking for a gaudy statistical performance to affirm your status among the greats, it’s actually the little things the player does or doesn’t do that determines if they will ultimately be successful. 

Tatum was “Mr. Everything” for Boston in these NBA Finals, so it was only fitting that he finished the Dallas Mavericks off with his best scoring game of the series. The 23.1 ppg career scorer in his seventh season, spoke loudly and honestly prior to the series about his objective entering these Finals. 

“I’m willing to do less to achieve more,” Tatum said. 

Jayson Tatum Understood The Assignment

Tatum understood the assignment in these NBA Finals. Realizing early on in the series that he didn’t have to force shots and, more important, if his shot wasn’t on, he played defense, rebounded and facilitated, all equally important aspects of the game in addition to scoring. 

He fought tirelessly to help limit Luka Doncic’s scoring prowess and keep the pressure on the Mavericks offensive for four quarters. 

We know he can do that with the best of them, but the Celtics’ big advantage is that so can Brown and Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis and Derrick White and even Al Horford if needed. 

Related: Jayson Tatum’s Exploding Jersey Sales and Future $300M Contract Proves He Will Be The Face Of NBA’s Next Generation (theshadowleague.com)

As the No. 1 player on the team, Tatum’s job was to ensure success. The Celtics had the best team in the NBA all season and were the top three-point shooting team. They also are a stout defensive squad, as evidenced by the job they collectively did on a backcourt that some were calling the “most skilled in history” entering the NBA finals. 

“This is an incredible feeling. I’m at a loss for words, I’m sorry. We responded all year, and this is no different. It’s been a long journey. It’s been a long journey,” Tatum said while basking in the glory of his first championship. “What they gonna say now? What they gon’ say now?

“We have a resilient group. We’ve been through a lot as a team over my seven years here. “

The NBA Finals is a different beast. Refs don’t blow their whistles as much; more physicality is to be expected and you’re facing the best team left. Usually, those teams have game plans to stop the opposing team’s best player, forcing other guys to step up and make plays. 

The first thing a superstar can do when his shot isn’t falling is abandon his sense as a basketball player.

Jayson Tatum Shows Superstar Play Goes Beyond Just Scoring Buckets

What fans and analytic nerds cram to understand is that there’s more to the game than scoring. John Starks shot the Knicks out of a championship in 1994 because he was so caught up in gunning that he forgot all of the other responsibilities and duties that can lead a team to a championship. 

Tatum refused to let any sort of rough shooting nights deter his aggression, passion and versatility. Sure, Porzingis’ Game 1 return was inspiring. Jrue Holiday’s 26 points in Game 2 and Jaylen Brown’s two-way excellence were vital.

But Tatum’s unselfishness, positive attitude and reserve was the constant throughout the series. He filled up the box score with more than just points. When the team did need him to step up, he did in Game 3, when he got his first 30-point game of the series. 

Via Celtics Stats: “Jayson Tatum passed Kobe Bryant tonight for most playoff points in NBA history before turning 27.” Tatum finished the game with 2,711. And he’s got many more to play.

Jayson Tatum Has Nothing Left To Prove: Face Of The NBA?

There’s been plenty of discussion about the face of the NBA. There have been many candidates offered, from Anthony Edwards to Luka Doncic, who played in this series. 

Tatum, just 26 years old, with an NBA championship under his belt and a long career ahead definitely is a strong contender for that title. He and Brown are the top tandem in the NBA, and they aren’t in their primes yet. If they stay together, they have a chance to do something special for a franchise that has seen dynasties, special moments, titles and the best players to ever do it. 

The dynamic duo combined for 31 points on 12-of-25 shooting in first half of the Game 5 clincher.

Tatum finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists. Brown added 21 points eight rebounds six assists.  

Brown won the Finals MVP award, as he was the more consistent scorer over the five game series, although Tatum averaged more points (22 ppg). Brown averaged 20.8 ppg, 5.4 rebounds and 5 assists on 44 percent shooting. He also made several key defensive plays that stopped runs and turned the tide of some close games.

As the seconds ticked off the clock, Tatum was emotional, with hands in head. The win is everything. He’ll get another chance to win NBA finals MVP. Hopefully, next season.

For now, Tatum answered all of the questions. There’s nothing better than an athlete who can kill a narrative with his performance and rise above the limitations people set for them and prove that they are special. 

The questions and the doubt are gone. Is Jayson Tatum truly elite? Yes. And he didn’t need to average 30 points or put up a bunch of shots to prove it. He played winning basketball. How champions play.

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