Checking in on Jayson Tatum and Ime Udoka at USA Basketball Training Camp
With Jayson Tatum set to play in his first Olympics for Team USA, and new Celtics head coach Ime Udoka selected as an assistant coach behind Gregg Popovich, Celtics fans get to see some familiar faces in this year’s Olympics. Tatum will spend the summer around a team of NBA superstars, including fellow St. Louis native Bradley Beal, and Celtics fans should get to see Tatum and Udoka continue to develop chemistry. Team training camp began on July 6th, and the team’s first exhibition game isn’t until July 10th, but we’ve already seen some interesting pieces of information come out in the first three days.
Tatum’s jersey number
Today we officially learned that Jayson Tatum will be wearing number 10 for Team USA during the Olympics, which was Kobe Bryant’s number during his Olympic tenure. During the Olympics, players are offered the numbers 1-15, for the 15 roster spots, as opposed to 00-99 when they play in NBA games. Tatum has said that Kobe was the reason he started playing basketball, and looked up to Kobe as a role model. Fellow Olympian Devin Booker, who is currently playing for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals, was also selected to the Olympic team and models his game after Kobe. Perhaps the uncertainty surrounding Booker’s eligibility gave Tatum the edge in jersey number selection? Regardless, it’s still cool to see.
The Beal-Tatum connection
Celtics and Wizards fans are both excited and fearful of the quotes and highlights of the two lifelong friends and St. Louis natives raving about each other and making highlight plays at practice. Beal was asked about teaming up with Tatum on Team USA and said that:
"We're both excited...Jayson and I have a special relationship."
Beal also was asked about how much Team USA players talk about teaming up in the league, and responded with:
"I don't know. Probably a lot."
While talk doesn’t necessarily lead to action, and it’s more likely that Beal comes to Boston as opposed to Tatum leaving for Washington, this quote is sure to get fans excited. I personally don’t want to trade for Beal this offseason, as it will almost certainly require us trading Jaylen Brown, but for now, we can continue to speculate and watch highlights from the St. Louis duo.
Ime Udoka reviews
Udoka being selected as an assistant coach for Team USA isn’t a huge surprise, as he was an assistant for Team USA at the 2019 FIBA World Cup as well, which is where he worked with Tatum, Brown, and Marcus Smart. It’s good to see him continue to ascend the NBA coaching echelon and gain experience working with NBA superstars, including Boston’s own Jayson Tatum. Both Tatum and Gregg Popovich have said only positive things about the Udoka hire for the Celtics, which is a good sign to receive approval from your team’s superstar and one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time.
Gregg Popovich on Ime Udoka's hire by the Celtics: "I couldn’t be more thrilled. The guy is a stalwart."
Jayson Tatum says of Ime Udoka, "From the conversations I’ve had with him since he got the job, I can tell he’s just really, really excited. It’s going to be fun and we’re going to try to accomplish something big."