In 2018, Jayson Tatum got an opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to work out with his idol, Kobe Bryant. Tatum has always spoken glowingly of Bryant, citing him as his inspiration growing up and as the reason why he started to play and fell in love with the game. Once on the Beyond the Press podcast, Tatum recalled Bryant asking him a question, “How much does it mean to you?”.
“One of the many things I took from him that always stuck with me, he kinda just asked me one day, ‘How much does it mean to you?’ And that kinda puts things in perspective. You know, how much does being great or being a champion or whatever? How much does it mean? What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to do, sacrifice? All those types of things. I think that’s kind of the model he lived by.”
Tatum took those words to heart back then, and today he paid tribute to his idol in their do-or-die Game 6 clash with the defending champions.
It certainly seemed like Tatum channeled his mentor with the snakeskin Air Jordan 36, as he put in an all-time playoff performance with 46 points against the Milwaukee Bucks. He had those words from Bryant “How much does it mean to you?” pushing him forward to take his game to another level and he did just that.
He will now undoubtedly look to keep up this level in Game 7, as the job isn’t done quite yet. Tatum just needs to remember a classic Kobe moment from a press conference during the 2009 NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic.
It was typical Kobe and Tatum will be hoping to follow in his mentor’s footsteps and finish the job to ultimately have a chance at winning the biggest prize in the sport.