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Exclusive: CelticsBlog sits down with Jayson Tatum

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Tatum shared thoughts on his Ruffles Chip Deal, his hometown, family, All-Star and the season to date

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite the Boston Celtics struggles this season, Jayson Tatum maintains his even-keeled demeanor. The now two-time All-Star is focused on Boston turning things around and competing for a championship, despite their uneven play. In an exclusive sit-down with CelticsBlog, Tatum shared his thoughts on the season to date, his second All-Star nod, his new Ruffles Chip Deal and more.

Tatum shares a mentality of not getting too high or too low with his coach Brad Stevens. Tatum believes that “If you are going to be that way, you need to keep that mindset at all times. In my rookie year, we won 16 games in a row. That 16 games didn’t win us a championship. You have to keep that mindset of one game at a time. And you always know you can take lessons from a win or a loss.”

Despite the Celtics sitting under .500, Tatum said the team hasn’t lost faith in each other or in the organization, despite some scuttle to the contrary. Tatum said everyone is focused on turning the season around: “Everyone in that locker room and organization cares. We want to figure it out. It’s not a chemistry thing. It’s not that we don’t enjoy being around each other and playing with each other. We do. We’re all frustrated with ourselves and how we’re playing as a team. We want to figure it out. That we care is a positive I’m taking away from right now.”

Tatum said Boston’s struggles took some of the shine off being named to the All-Star team for the second time: “It felt great. I don’t take it for granted. There are only 24 guys named each year. At 22, for this to be my second one, it’s a big deal. At the same time, for the state of our team to not be where we want, it’s tough to be as excited as I wanted to be or as I was last year.”

For the second straight year, Tatum will head to the All-Star Game alongside a teammate. He smiled when asked if that makes the honor more special: “Last year was with Kemba (Walker). Now, it’s with JB (Jaylen Brown). Sharing a moment like this with someone from your team is pretty, pretty cool.”

As for lobbying the All-Star captains, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, on selecting him, Tatum laughed and said he hasn’t started that process. However, Tatum did say he would love to play with fellow St. Louis native Bradley Beal: “Hopefully me and Brad Beal get to be on the same team. I’ve never formally played with him, just against him.”

Tatum’s upbringing in, and very evident love for, St. Louis were part of what caused him to sign his new Ruffles Chip Deal. Tatum said he never expected to see himself on a chip bag. After Anthony Davis signed a “chip deal” last year, Tatum said he started to think about the possibilities. “When I was growing up, I loved eating chips. I loved eating Ruffles. I don’t know that I ever saw anyone on the bag before, until Anthony Davis last year. That’s when I got the thought that if I ever had the opportunity, I’d jump on it. I’m super grateful.”

As for the Flamin’ Hot BBQ flavor of chips he’s feature on, Tatum said that marries two of his favorite things: spicy food and BBQ. Tatum smiled and recalled his hometown when asked about the process of selecting a flavor for him to rep: “It’s something organic to me. I love spicy food. Anything I can eat to give it that extra kick, I go for. And St. Louis is known for BBQ. Adding that combination was a no-brainer.”

On his love for St. Louis, Tatum had a big smile when asked if there should be an NBA team located in his hometown: “Yeah. I think so. I definitely think so.”

As far as him and Bradley Beal teaming up back home if that happened, Tatum laughed “I don’t think Celtics fans would be happy about that one!”

Tatum’s affinity for Boston was also clear. On signing a contract extension to keep him with the Celtics, Tatum smiled “I was really excited about that. Glad that they want me here, since I want to be here. After getting to Boston, there is nowhere else I want to play.”

Boston is now Tatum’s adopted hometown. His family is there, including his son Deuce. Tatum was clearly happy to be back home from the recent road trip. He even shared a video on social media of Deuce hanging on for a ride:

Tatum beams when talking about his son. He said when Deuce first saw him on the Ruffles bag, he kept saying “Daddy! Daddy! Look Daddy!”. As for Deuce’s attentiveness while watching his dad play, Tatum has had the relatable experience of every parent when the iPad is just a bit cooler than mom or dad: “For sure! That’s happens for sure.”

Tatum said his family is part of what keeps him grounded and even-keeled. That’s true even when times are tough, like during his recent bout with COVID-19. Tatum said he’s feeling much better: “People I talked to that went through the same thing said that it takes a little bit. It hasn’t gotten any worse, so that’s good.”

That return to full health will go a long way towards helping Boston turn around this season. Tatum acknowledged his role as a veteran leader for the Celtics, despite just being in his fourth season, as being a part of that turnaround.

Those lessons in being a leader came from a somewhat unexpected place. Tatum said the player who stands out most as helping him transition to the NBA was former teammate Marcus Morris. On Morris, Tatum said “He was there my first two seasons. He’s someone I’m still really close with. He helped me out with how to be a professional. He helped me on what to focus on both on and off the court. I still talk to him all the time.”

With a contract extension from the Celtics, second All-Star selection, a Ruffles Chip Deal and a loving family, it may seem like Jayson Tatum has it all, but he still wants more. Tatum has faith in himself and his teammates that they’ll turn this season around. He believes that faith will eventually lead to a championship in Boston: “We’ll get there. I believe that. We’ll get there.”