Monday, November 6, 2023

Jayson Tatum becomes youngest Celtic to reach 10,000 career points

Jayson Tatum added yet another impressive accomplishment to his Celtics resume Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets.

While the All-Star forward was instrumental in the team's 124-114 win at the Barclays Center to give Boston a 5-0 start to the season, Tatum also notched another feat by becoming the youngest player in franchise history to score 10,000 points.

The 25-year-old, who only needed 16 points to reach the milestone heading into the matchup, set the record -- previously held by Antoine Walker at 26 years of age -- midway through the second quarter when Tatum drove to the rim and scored while being fouled to give him 15 points. Tatum's ensuing free throw gave him his 16th in the game and 10,000 for his NBA career.
"It's kind of hard to process in the moment," Tatum said to reporters the after win, reflecting on his 10,000-point feat. "Huge accomplishment. Extremely blessed to be a part of such a great franchise, and I've been fortunate to be on some really good teams. I have some really, really good coaches. Obviously, I have some great teammates that have helped contribute to 10,000 points along the way."
Tatum, now in his seventh year as a pro, has been on a tear offensively two weeks into the 2023-24 campaign -- averaging 30.2 points on 55% from the field and 45.2% from behind the 3-point arc in the best start of his career -- while the Celtics remain the only undefeated team left.

Still, it didn't seem that long ago when the then 19-year-old Duke alum crossed that stage in the same building where he just recorded his 10,000 career point.
"It definitely has gone by fast. I remember getting drafted in this building in 2017. So, time has gone by fast. Just trying to stay present. Stay in the moment, enjoy it," Tatum said. "10,000 points sounds crazy to just think about. I always think about when I was a kid, growing up with my mom, and saying I wanted to be in the NBA. While I may have thought I would be one of the best players, and to actually do it is a surreal feeling. So, just kind of living out my dream."
Tatum also became the 10th youngest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points and the only player in league history to log 10,000 points, 3,000 rebounds, and make 1,000 threes at age 25.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla had nothing but high praise for the All-NBA forward following the team's victory over the Nets.
"He shows up to work every single day. He puts the work in. He dedicates his life to it," Mazzulla said of Tatum in his postgame presser. "He doesn't miss days, he doesn't miss practices, games. And just his open-mindedness in wanting to be coached, wanting to be held to a high standard. When you have guys like that that you can coach, you see what you get out of him, and it also allows you to bring the best out of everybody. He's one of the guys that sets the tone… I'm really proud of him, and I know he's not going to stop."
Despite setting new franchise records, such as clinching the highest scoring average just last year -- surpassing the likes of Larry Bird -- to become the only Celtic in history to put up 30 points a game for a single season (2022-23), Tatum reminded us all that he wasn't sure he wanted to play in Boston before being drafted No. 3 overall six years ago.
"Man, I was ignorant when I got drafted," Tatum said Saturday night, looking back on possible destinations prior to the 2017 NBA Draft. "I didn't even want to come because I didn't think I was going to play. They had Gordon [Hayward], JB [Jaylen Brown], IT [Isaiah Thomas], and (Marcus) Smart, and I didn't think I was good enough to be on that team. It didn't even cross my mind how to close a game or how to finish. I was just more concerned about getting in the game and starting. But things happen for a reason, and I got my opportunity."
Tatum has come a long way, even if the on going joke among Celtics fans is that he is still 19-years-old. The superstar is looking to add to his legacy as one of the best athletes to come through Boston.
"It's been a long process," Tatum added. "I've had to learn through the ups and downs. Through my mistakes. Late-game decisions, or whatever it may be, just growing pains. [You] play in enough games to play in enough playoff series. You learn those things."
In the meantime, the Celtics, who are on a mission to win the first championship since 2008, have the best record in the league. They'll head to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves Monday night.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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