As it is, losing the NBA Finals leaves an indelible wound. Unfortunately, Jayson Tatum gets a taste of it following the Boston Celtics’ collapse against the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals.
“Us walking off the court at home and seeing them celebrate on our floor. That is an image, a memory, a feeling that I’ll probably never ever forget,” Tatum said in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks (h/t Nathan Dougherty of Heavy).
“And it doesn’t help every time I see someone, you know, ‘Man good job in the finals. You’ll be back. I was rooting for you.’ I’m just constantly reminded every day, and that’s the tough part about the offseason after you lose,” he added.
The Celtics had a remarkable year, rising from the depths of struggle then transforming into a formidable title contender breaching through the 2021-2022 midseason.
Tatum, being at the core, has willed his franchise to a then-potentially dynastic postseason journey – sweeping the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving Brooklyn Nets, ousting Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, and trampling the gritty Miami Heat in the Conference Finals en route to the championship stage that Boston hasn’t stepped into since 2010.
The fruit of his outstanding labor is being named the first-ever recipient of the Larry Bird East Finals MVP honors, but the honor and composure it gave didn’t materialize upon facing the battle-tested Golden State squad.
In six total games of the championship saga, Tatum underperformed when it mattered the most. He only averaged 21.5 points in a rugged 36.7 shooting from the field. Other than that, he wasn’t able to seize every single ball possession he had, compiling 23 total turnovers – a series-worst.
The agony of defeat in his first NBA Finals appearance made himself hit the rock bottom following the unpleasant conclusion.
“Those 3-4 days after, I was miserable… It took some time to kind of get out of that funk, and kind of enjoy my life, enjoy being around my son and my family,” Tatum further explained.
“It’s just tough. I feel like sometimes I come off so laid back, that I don’t know if people understand how much I invest in this game. How much I care, how hard I work… It was just so tough because I literally gave everything that I had. To feel like I ran out, like I didn’t have anything left to give, and we were so close… I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was just in my house for 3-4 days straight.”
Upon the retooling that team president Brad Stevens made this summer, wherein the Cs landed trusted contributors in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari, Tatum may now only look forward to the solid title optimism that the upcoming 2022-2023 can bring to the Beantown.
The Celtics will visit the Chase Center to spark a rematch with the defending champ Warriors on Dec. 10. As such, Tatum has surely circled that specific date in his calendar.