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Jayson Tatum: If we’re gonna go down there, we might as well go to win a championship

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Despite worries about the restart, Tatum made it clear that competing for a title is worth it.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In media availability on Tuesday, Jayson Tatum said the Boston Celtics focus on the restart of the NBA season is on winning. Tatum said the team has their eyes on the prize: “If we’re gonna go down there, we might as well go to win a championship. Everyone’s in the same boat. The team that can maintain focus is going to be the most successful team. We’re going down there to try to win.”

Despite his desire to compete for a title, Tatum indicated that participating in the rest of the season wasn’t an easy decision. He cited social justice issues and COVID-19 as concerns, but was clear his biggest apprehension was his family. Tatum said being away from his two-and-a-half-year-old son Deuce and his mom was on his mind. He said that he didn’t make a final decision on playing until a few days ago.

Tatum said part of what helped him make the decision was the platform the NBA restart is going to give players to speak on social justice matters: “If we continue the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racism, obviously a lot of people will be watching, and I think we can make a stand, continue to raise awareness and not let the conversation die down. I think it’s going to be a part of history.”

Furthering his points about the platform Tatum said “Every black man has a story dealing with race or social injustice or dealing with the police and there’s so much that we can do to change and hopefully this discussion doesn’t end any time soon. It’s something we shouldn’t forget about in six months.”

There had been reports Tatum was uncertain about playing the rest of this season because he’s in line for a max contract extension in the offseason. Tatum refuted those reports, saying “I heard reports that said I wasn’t playing. Then I heard reports that I was unhappy with those reports (about not playing). I never talked to anybody about playing or not playing due to my contract. It didn’t sway me either way.”

Tatum went on to say that he spoke with the NBA and NBPA as part of the group of players discussing concerns around the restart. He said that ultimately the decisions made on players in his position didn’t influence his decision to play: “It was only family concerns for me. Nothing financial. That would be insensitive, especially during this time when so many people have to file for unemployment, for me to be worried about X amount of dollars.”

As far as where his own game is at, Tatum laughed when asked if it was true that he made 90% of his shots when he returned to the gym: “There wasn’t any defense out there. I would hope I could hit some shots.”

Tatum said it’s been good to be back with his teammates and back to some level of normality: “Just to be able to see the guys back in the gym and knowing that we’ll be able to go out there and compete with each other again, that makes it worth it. I missed those guys and it’s a good group to be around.”

While he might not be excited about the conditions of the restart and will miss his family, Tatum has his eyes set on trying to bring Banner 18 back to Boston.