Jayson Tatum’s basketball camp is officially underway, and so far, we’ve had blocked shots, Duece appearance requests, and some very thoughtful answers during media availability..
Before we look at Tatum’s discussions with the press, let’s start with the fun stuff like the St. Louis native doing his best Robert Williams impression by sending a young fan’s shot flying into the crowd.
An annual tradition: Jayson Tatum blocking kids’ shots emphatically (then exploiting his size on the other end). pic.twitter.com/I4ahtGGpTS— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) July 30, 2022
Ok, fair is fair, you took a shot against an All-NBA talent, and it got blocked - whaddya expect to happen? And more importantly, do you really care? Because you got to take a shot against Jayson Tatum, and that's worth the entry fee alone!
Still, the event didn’t all go in Tatum’s favor, as some kids managed to score on him - and I’m betting that’s what led to him blocking the above shot so callously. Gotta save face where you can, right?
Kids scores on Tatum, who gets quick revenge. pic.twitter.com/K41Nw57n0y— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) July 30, 2022
And while we’re on the topic of kids, check out this young fan who got an opportunity to ask Tatum anything he wanted...and he chose to ask to meet Duece! I mean, Tatum has consistently said that his mini-me is the bigger star, but this might be the first time we’ve actually seen it on video.
“I always like doing these camps, just to see the excitement on their faces when I come in. That’s just extremely pure, and it’s all about just having fun, and I think that’s the best part,” Tatum said.
Ok, that’s enough of the fun stuff! Now we can get into the actual basketball side of things, and it all starts with the All-Star wing talking about how he’s remained in contact with his teammates throughout the summer.
“We’ve all been in contact, just checking in on each other, see how they’re doing. Everybody is traveling with their family and stuff right now, but probably next month, guys will start getting back in the gym. Some of us might be in LA together and we’ll work out, stuff like that,” Tatum told reporters when asked about his communication with the team throughout the summer.
Tatum was also asked about team chemistry - which is something the Celtics have struggled to create over the past few seasons with mixed results. And with all the current trade rumors swirling around, it will be interesting to see how that chemistry holds up next season. But for now, the 24-year-old wing is remaining confident in his team's collective mindset, and that’s encouraging as we continue to close in on training camp.
“Chemistry is half the battle. I feel like you can have a great team with great talent, and not necessarily gel together. You guys saw we figured it out in January and never looked back...it’s a little different, knowing that we got to a certain point and was so close. And we’re excited to get back to that, get back to the group, because we’ve got unfinished business.”
Tatum also spoke on the nagging shoulder injury that he sustained in the Miami Heat series, giving an encouraging update that will have Celtics fans everywhere breathing a sigh of relief.
“It was a longer season than I had ever played, but the shoulder feels good, I’ve got enough rest, so my body feels really good,” Tatum said, “You know what works for you, what you may need to change, whether it be something in your strength program or your diet, so I think that just going through things and having that experience, you learn from it.”
This past week might have been filled with trade rumors and concerns about Jaylen Brown’s future with the franchise, but Tatum’s camp and what he told the medi, is a good reminder that this Celtics team is the real deal - they’re close-knit, are looking to improve off last season, have improved their depth, and most importantly, they’re loving their time in the league.
When things are fun, success often comes easier, and judging by all the videos coming out of the camp, there wasn’t a sad face to be seen across the board - and that’s what basketball, in its purist form, is all about - sometimes it's good to remember that.