Despite playing for the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum rocked a purple and gold armband in honor of the late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday night. The Celtics went on to beat the Heat in Miami 100-96.
With Sunday night’s matchup with the Heat being a win-or-go-home game, Tatum channeled the Mamba Mentality to carry the Celtics to the NBA Finals with a 26-point performance.
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Growing up a fan of the late NBA legend, Tatum was lucky enough to be able to train with Bryant prior to his passing. Tatum discussed the influence his idol had on his during an appearance on Beyond the Press in 2021.
“One of the many things I took from him that always stuck with me,” Tatum said at the time. “He kind of just asked me one day, “How much does it mean to you?” and that kind of put things in perspective. How much does being great or being a champion, or, whatever, what are you willing to give up? What are you willing to do to sacrifice? And, I think that was kind of the motto he lived by.”
He continued: “Everyone wants to win. I want to be a champion. I want to be an MVP and want to be one of the greatest to ever play, Hall of Fame. That’s something I’m actively working on.”
The Celtics will take on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Game 1 is scheduled for June 2 at 9:00 PM, ET.
Check out Tatum’s armband tribute to Bryant below.