Jayson Tatum had a conversation with Kendrick Perkins about the recent criticism
On April 6th, the Celtics lost to the Philadelphia 76ers after a lackadaisical and disconnected team effort. In 35 minutes, Jayson Tatum finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists on 41% shooting from the field. On social media, fans and the media bashed Tatum and the Celtics for their effort, and some even called for Tatum to be traded out of Boston. Former Celtic and current NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins also tweeted about the Celtics and Tatum, and while he was critical of Tatum, it appears that he intended to light a fire under the young star.
Jayson Tatum, you got paid the big bucks! You have the body language and energy level of an underpaid player and it’s hurtin the team. Time to step up and live up to your role, straight up. Carry on...
Perkins joined “Celtics Postgame Live” after the April 6th game to elaborate on his thoughts, and he explained:
"When you look at all the other stars around the league, they compete, they compete, they compete. They don't have bad body language. They're enthusiastic. They're supporting their teammates. They're always talking to their teammates. And it's part of [Tatum] I guess growing, but you've got to have that. You have to learn those leadership skills."
Since April 6th, Tatum has responded to the critics and played some of the best basketball of his young career. In the four games since Perkins’ comments, the Celtics are 4-0, and Tatum is playing out of his mind. During the four game win streak, Tatum is averaging a highly efficient 34.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game, and over the past ten games, Tatum is shooting 50-40-90 shooting splits from the field. While the Celtics are finally healthy and appear to be coming together as a team, Tatum’s individual play demonstrates his ability to respond well to constructive criticism.
Perkins spoke about Tatum’s performance last night against the Portland Trail Blazers both on Twitter and on “Celtics Postgame Live.” On the postgame show, he shed some insight into how Tatum responded to his April 6th comments on Twitter.
In the clip, Perkins clarifies that he wasn’t calling out Tatum in his original commentary, and instead believed that Tatum wasn’t playing to his superstar potential. Perkins said that Tatum called him and had a conversation with the former Celtic to gain some clarification on Perk’s comments. Perkins explained that Tatum wasn’t angry with him, but instead acted like a “true professional” and responded to Perkins’ comments in his gameplay. According to Perkins:
“I explained that I felt that Tatum had it in [him] to elevate even more. You can get 25 in your sleep, but I think that you can separate yourself and be up there with the superstars. I feel like you got more in your game and you can take over this team.”
Jayson Tatum put Portland to sleep tonight!!! The way he played tonight and over the last 10 days taking over games is why they paid him the big bucks. This is the young SUPERSTAR that Celtics fans has been looking for. Carry on...
I think it’s demonstrative of Tatum’s maturity how he’s handled this entire season. There have been a number of issues on this team, but Tatum has taken a lot of the recent criticism and blame from fans and the media. While the 23 year-old is averaging career highs across the board, they haven’t translated into team success. However, he hasn’t complained or publicly spoken out, and instead looked for guidance from a Celtics legend and played the best stretch of basketball in his career. If what Perkins told Tatum can consistently translate to the court, and Tatum can lock in for the remainder of the season, it bodes well for the Celtics’ playoff run. It’s nice to see a key player from the Celtics’ last NBA Championship connecting with current Celtics players, and hopefully Perkins’ can inspire the C’s to make a run of their own.