Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is close to completing his fourth NBA season. Even though he just turned 23 in March, he already has played in two All-Star Games and has given plenty of reason to believe that many more will follow.
This season, he averaged 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game, all of which were career highs. He is this team’s present and future, and he is one of its leaders. But when he is on the floor, it might not always appear that way. Although Tatum is a fierce competitor, he is also mild-mannered, and sometimes his fire is not obvious.
But on Tuesday morning, Tatum stressed that his slightly subdued approach should not be mistaken for a lack of leadership.
“Everybody is different, right?” he said. “And I’m sure the people who watch the games and, you know, give their opinion on what happens kind of want you to be a certain way, and think that if you’re yelling and screaming and stuff like that, that necessarily makes you a leader. It works for some guys.
“[I’m] certain that we can name plenty of other guys who are special and led their team and, I don’t know, in a quieter way, just because of their demeanor. Not necessarily yelling and screaming on the court or in the huddle so that everyone can see.
“It can be in how you play, how you show up every day. You know, pulling guys to the side, which everybody won’t see that. I’m certain that people think that since I’m not overly emotional or do things like that, they can kind of question whatever they want to question. Leadership comes in all different types of fashions. I just do it in my own way.”
State and local officials on Monday cleared Boston sports venues to resume holding games at full capacity starting May 29. But a Celtics spokesperson said that TD Garden will not necessarily be fully opened by then, as officials from the Celtics, TD Garden, and the NBA discuss the best way to move forward in the coming days.
The Garden began hosting events at 12 percent capacity on March 22, and the figure was increased to 25 percent on May 10. The NBA playoff schedule is not yet set, but the Celtics would most likely be playing Game 4 of their opening-round series against the Nets at TD Garden on or after May 29.
Although Celtics forward Jaylen Brown is out for the season after undergoing wrist surgery, the team was otherwise whole for its play-in tournament game against the Wizards on Tuesday night. Robert Williams, who had missed five of the last six games because of turf toe, was the final Celtic to be cleared to play, although he exited again after hyperextending his toe.
Tatum and Wizards star Bradley Beal are close friends and St. Louis natives, and they were thrilled to be teammates in the All-Star Game this season. Tuesday’s meeting was a bit less jovial but special nonetheless.
“I do love any time that I get to match up with him and play against him,” Tatum said. “Obviously, this has a lot more at stake, so I think this is cool. Obviously, everybody back home, they’re going to be tuned in watching the game. And everybody knows our relationship. And he’s obviously one of my favorite players. So, this is a cool moment.”