Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum channeled his Mamba Mentality on Friday, becoming the second-youngest player all-time to have at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a Game 7 of a playoff series. Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was previously the youngest to do so.
For Tatum, who spent time at the beginning of his career training alongside Bryant, reaching this milestone in his first season as the leader of the Celtics has some deep meaning to it.
Bryant went out of his way to help the young player grow, and now that work is paying off with the Celtics reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.
Following the incredible Game 7 performance, Tatum felt proud to be next to Bryant’s name, and is continuing to focus on the development of his game as the Celtics progress in the postseason, via “Inside the NBA” on TNT:
“I didn’t know that. That’s great company to be in. Everybody knows how much he meant to myself, to this world, to the game of basketball. Obviously anytime you mention somebody like that, it means you’re doing something good. I just try to get better every game, just try to improve. I don’t really look at I’m one of the young guys. I just try to be the best player on the court every night, and I think that’s the mentality that I take every time I step on the floor.”
Although he plays for the team Bryant spent his whole career trying to take down, that didn’t stop the Black Mamba from reaching out to Tatum after he retired. Once he left the game for good in 2016, Bryant dedicated the rest of his life to mentoring young stars like Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo to ensure the game continues to grow without him.
Tatum is one of the current NBA players that most resembles Bryant, as his toughness and ability to hit tough shots in critical moments come directly from the Mamba Mentality mindset.
Tatum learned the mindset to always improve from Bryant
While Bryant is no longer with us, his mark on the game of basketball is seen every day through various players. There’s no doubt that Tatum is one of those players, especially after what he learned about Mamba Mentality from Bryant.
After their workout together, Tatum learned about what it means to exude this mentality, and part of that was never being satisfied and always looking to improve. He also referred to Bryant as his all time favorite player, a common theme among today’s young NBA stars.
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