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Boston Celtics All-NBA small forward Jayson Tatum is already one of the league’s more congenial and open stars when it comes to fan engagement, and this week the St. Louis native decided to go even harder in that direction by hosting an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) event on the popular social media site Reddit.
Hosted on the “r/NBA” subreddit, Tatum answered a host of fan questions himself, responding to a variety of lines of inquiry ranging from serious to playful, and covering the game itself and his approach to it, his team, his personal life, and how he feels about a number of topics more generally.
Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting questions asked, and the Duke product’s answers.
Which player have you had the toughest time guarding?
I think for my own individual matchup, Kawhi and Paul George. Those are two guys I looked up to before I got into the league.
How difficult is it to balance being a father with being an NBA player? How do you stay connected to your son even when you're always traveling?
I have a lot of help with my mom and his mom, they make it easier for all of us so it’s a collective effort. But I don’t really look at it as a balancing thing. Maybe it was at first, because I had a kid 2/3 months after I got drafted so that was all new, just being in the NBA and also being a parent. But now, it’s just what I do. It’s my everyday life. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386725498512936961?s=20
What do you think going up against stars you grew up watching like Lebron,Steph, Chris Paul,etc ?
It’s different now. Everything was new to me my first year or two as I was living out my dream. I was a little starstruck, having to almost pinch myself that this is my reality, and getting a chance to compete against these people I grew up idolizing. I think now - I still have that same respect for all the guys that have been doing this for a long time, but I’m also trying to make my own imprint on this game.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make to your game between college and the NBA?
In college everyone is relatively the same age. But when I got drafted, I was 19 and had guys on my team like Al Horford who was like 30-32 years old with a wife and kids. It was weird how two people can be at two totally different places in their life but be on the same team. And also just the travel schedule. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386706473733005312?s=20
What was your moment in the league where you knew you would be a star? Or did you always know?
I always felt like I would be a star, but it just came a lot faster than I expected. Towards the end of my rookie year, around the time when Kyrie went out with injury, we went undefeated on a West Coast road trip and finished the season as the 2nd seed. I obviously had to take on a bigger offensive role, and it was during that period where I felt like even though I’m young and this is my first year, I’m built for this.
Jayson Tatum, u need to get a cut bro. Where is top 5 TATUM!
Oh yeah... its gotten better with the curls. Got some positive feedback so for sure top 5. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386701951405076484?s=20
Who is your favourite player to watch right now in the NBA apart from your teammates?
I love watching Steph, Kyrie, Brad Beal and Anthony Davis. And then the guys I came in with like Bam, Donovan and Fox.
Jayson, are there any former Celtics that have helped you on your journey to the top of the NBA? If so, whats the best advice you've received from some of our former greats?
I’ve had a few convos with KG, and Paul Pierce was around a lot my rookie year. I did a special with him after training camp, and it was great to get the opportunity to talk to a Celtics legend like that my first year. I was just in awe and was all ears. He told me about how when he got drafted, he realized there’s a difference between being with this franchise and others. All the championship banners, all the hall of famers that played before him and before me. There’s a lot of pride but also a lot of responsibility that comes with putting on that jersey, and a lot of expectations with playing in the city of Boston. The fans here expect excellence. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386681511773184000?s=20
What is the skill you'd like to have in your arsenal which a current nba player has mastered and who is that player and which skill?
If I could shoot like Steph, that would be pretty nice.
Favorite place to eat in Boston?
There’s a lot of restaurants in the North End. Italian, steak houses, any restaurant you go to around there just has that Boston feel. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386636189025832962?s=20
Hey Jayson...How did you feel when you first heard the news that you were being drafted?
It was the best feeling ever. I was sitting in the green room at the table, and I’ll never forget when the 3rd pick came up and Adam Silver came out. What they don’t show you is all the cameras before he announced it. He comes out and all the cameras run at me, and I’m like “this is it.” But after about 5 seconds, they left and went to another table, and I looked at my mom looking like the world’s saddest kid. But then they ran back over to my table, and he said my name. It was a surreal feeling. Ever since I was 3 years old I had dreamed of being in the NBA, and I can’t tell you how many times I dreamed of sitting at that table and hearing my name get called. It’s hard to describe the emotions.
What do you love about living in Boston? How has the city welcomed you?
This is a great place to be if you’re a professional athlete. People here love their teams. Every game we have is sold out, and it was like that even before I got here, even if you’re rebuilding. They know basketball, and you can feel that in the atmosphere when we’re playing, if I’m out to eat or even just driving through the city. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386590880891645953?s=20
What do you feel like was the hardest thing to adjust to when entering the NBA? Any advice you’d have to younger athletes trying to get to where you are?
In your first year, you’re in a new environment, a new city, in new surroundings. What I tried to do was earn the trust and respect of my coaches and teammates. Listen to everything they had to say. Always be early, be on the first bus. You’re a rookie, so you need to show in training camp and early in the season that you’re willing to do what it takes to get an opportunity. Once you get that opportunity, it’s up to you to decide where to go from there.
Have you started teaching baby Deuce your ways?
Recently, he’s wanted to play basketball more on his hoop. As he’s gotten a little older and since fans have been allowed he’s been coming to the home games, and the last couple weeks, he’s really been trying to get me to play basketball with him, shoot with him and show him how to dribble. I didn’t want to force him, but always thought that he’s going to be around it so much, so if he ever picks the ball up and wants to, obviously I’ll be more than happy to play with him and teach him. And that’s started to happen a lot recently around the house. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386500328363905025?s=20
What was the adjustment from the college 3pt to the NBA 3pt line like? Is it just a matter of shooting from further, or is there more to it?
Honestly, I didn’t shoot that great in college percentage wise. My first year in the league I shot like 43-44% from three, and over my 4-year career I think I’m at like 40%. I don’t know what happened, but I definitely shoot it better now in the league than I did in college.
How do you prepare yourself before a game? What do you eat or drink on gameday?
I kinda go about a game day like I would any other day. I just try to be as relaxed and calm and normal as I can be. I normally take a little nap before shootaround, but other than that I just like to come in with a clear mind and ready to have fun. That’s when I play my best, when I’m just having fun. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386470138275303428?s=20
What is your favorite non basketball memory from your time at Duke?
I had an awesome time during my one year in college. Most of us on the team were from out of state, and so it was kinda like having 14 new siblings. We spent so much time together, from going out to eat and traveling to being each other’s dorms. I still keep in touch with most of those guys today, including two of my closest friends, Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles. I formed some special relationships during that short period of time.
Hello Jayson, how do you handle the ball so well at your size? I'm pretty small (5'6) and I struggle with ball handling and watching your highlights is just so surreal to me. Any tips?
I started at a young age. My dad is like 6’6, and when he was growing up that was extremely tall. But now, 6’6 is like a point guard or a two-guard, and when I was growing up, everybody knew I was probably going to be taller than him, but he didn’t necessarily put me in the post and make me a big man. He showed me guard skills when I was young. So I think whatever size you are, learning guard skills first can go a long way. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1386439931522740226?s=20
What is your/your teams biggest focus in the home stretch of the season before playoffs?
We have 10 or 11 games left. You want to win every game as a player, but with how close the seeding is, every game right now is especially important. So we’re trying to finish on a high note, and then trying to be healthy going into the playoffs and feel like the best version of ourselves, individually and as a unit. When the playoffs come, it’s go time. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=49519,49516,49484,49476] [listicle id=49479]