Before playing in the biggest game of his life so far, Jayson Tatum, star of the Boston Celtics, texted the late, great Kobe Bryant a simple text message: “I got you today 🤞”.
Tatum’s message came true, as he played a major role in his Celtics holding off the Miami Heat to win a do or die game 7 and punch a ticket to his first NBA finals.
The St. Louis born small forward wore a purple armband with the number 24 on it to honour the late Los Angeles Lakers superstar Bryant.
Tatum dropped 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists to go along with a steal and two blocks, securing himself the inaugural Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP, awarded to the best player of the series.
Bryant and Tatum had a very close connection before the former’s untimely and shocking death in early 2020.
[Kobe] was somebody I really looked up to, and really was like my hero, the reason I started playing basketball
Tatum said in a press conference just after Kobe passed, “To becoming a friend and mentor, somebody who I could talk to and help me out with a bunch of things, on and off the court.”
The two were known to work out together in Tatum’s early NBA years. He even made an Instagram post in 2018 with the same caption as his most recent one, which features the text to Kobe before game 7.
Tatum and the Boston Celtics go up against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, which start Friday (NZT).