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You just have to love this kid, and the Boston TD Garden crowd certainly shows it!. The crowd made sure that they considered Jayson Tatum a real rookie, unlike Ben Simmons, and showered their love all over the court.

Hey, look - I appreciate arrogance in any Celtic that can back it up. Paul Pierce, his court partner Kevin Garnett, and the ever-volatile Larry Bird all had it in abundance, but backed it up with their stellar play.

If you are looking for an NBA player seemingly with none of that arrogance, look at Jayson. It is ironic that the great Bill Russell was in the house last night in Boston's victory over the 76'ers. Bill has always been proud and outspoken, but rarely arrogant.

Paul Pierce was once asked who the best player in the NBA was, and he responded that he was. Larry, prior to the three-point shooting contest during All-Star weekend asked the rest of the contestants who was coming in second. When Tatum was asked if he was a better rookie than Ben Simmons, he answered "No comment", albeit with a smile on his face. See what I mean.

In his outstanding article, Boston.com's Adam Himmelsbach wrote the following to illustrate some of the hardships that Jayson and his mother, Brandy Cole endured during his childhood:

Brandy Cole tried to shield her only child from the struggles that filled their small brick home on the west side of St. Louis, but it was not easy.

Sometimes young Jayson Tatum would find that the gas had been cut off because of unpaid bills, so his mother would turn on the clothes dryer for heat, or warm water on a stovetop for baths. On cold nights, she would plug in a small space heater in her bedroom and hold her son close.

When the electricity went out in the evening, she sometimes turned on her car’s headlights so Jayson could at least play on an illuminated basketball court.



In the tweet immediately above, he actually answered "Naw" to the questions about whether he heard the crowd chanting "not a rookie" for Simmons. Don't be surprised to hear an "Aw shucks" from the real rookie during a future interview.



There will be much more written about this young man before his career is over. He seems destined for greatness, and I believe that was on Bill Russell's mind as he watched the game. Oh, and Bill did ask Red Auerbach for one-dollar more per year than Wilt Chamberlain was earning. And yes, he did tell Jerry West before the final playoff game against the Lakers (in LA) that "those f###ing balloons are staying up there!" I call those quiet arrogance. Nothing blustery about it. Jayson's mom, and the Boston crowd, probably wouldn't mind that type of low-key stuff from jayson.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Charles Krupa/AP Photo

Tom Lane 5/01/2018 02:18:00 PM Edit
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