Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports got an exclusive sit down interview with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It is worth the listen and read, so check it out here.
It is clear that Tatum and Brown understand that the fate of the franchise is in their hands. They talk about their fit together (and the questions that used to follow them about that fit), coming up short in the NBA Finals, and how they’ll have to be closer this year in light of “all that’s going on.”
Here’s a money quote from Tatum that sums it up well.
Tatum: “I think, [Brown] being a year older than me, and kind of being the young guys going through this and always pushing each other and having somebody that is as competitive, as ambitious as me, at relatively the same age, has been helpful. And then kind of putting it all together — helping him out, helping me out, helping each other out so that we can be the best for the team. Individually, we can do it all. We can accomplish whatever we want to. But getting to that championship and losing was the worst feeling ever. And you realize that nothing else matters. All the individual stuff, I would trade all that in to win a championship. And I believe that we’re gonna do it.”
We’ve talked about this pair being “young” for so long that the narrative has gotten downright old. These guys have gone through a lot together. Ups and downs, new teammates, new coaches, overachieving, underachieving, overcoming slow starts, the list goes on. Each of those were lessons in their basketball educations.
Historically speaking, it is common for the best of the best to take a number of seasons at the start of their careers to figure out how to win at the highest levels. From Jordan to LeBron to Steph to Giannis. Going from good to great is one leap. Going from great to one of the greatest is an even bigger one.
Getting to go through it together is a different twist. The danger is that there could be jealousy or jockeying of touches or attention or whatever. I think that’s what people were looking for when they were trying to say that these guys can’t win together. They saw the team struggling, both players were still playing well, so the next easiest narrative to push is that they just can’t play well together. Once the wins started coming, that noise got a lot quieter and once they made it to the Finals, it was pretty much put to rest.
What they have a chance to do is push each other, help each other, compliment each other, and ultimately succeed together. From this interview and basically every other soundbite we’ve heard, they are focused on winning above all. They acknowledge the Ime shaped shadow over the team, but they are seeing it as an opportunity to bond closer together. That speaks to their maturity, leadership, and ownership of their position in the franchise.
The cliché is that “this team will go as far as Tatum and Brown will take them.” Sometimes cliches are just true statements that everyone understands and believes. There are hundreds of storylines and thousands of stories that we’ll track with this team. But this is the one I’m most excited about following along with this year.