Tatum would ‘love to be on the Mount Rushmore of Celtics,’ knows that requires a banner

new balance

Boston Celtics v LA Clippers

Boston Celtics v LA Clippers

Jayson Tatum is already one of the NBA’s elite players: 30.1 points and 8.8 rebounds a game last season, fourth in MVP voting and a first-team All-NBA player. When it’s time for a new contract in a couple of years, he likely will sign the biggest one in NBA history (just like his teammate Jaylen Brown did this summer).

However, Tatum knows if he wants to be a true Boston Celtics legend, he has to lead a team that hangs at least one banner in the rafters at the TD Garden. Brown opened up about that to Jeff Goodman of The Messenger.

“I would love to be on the Mount Rushmore of Celtics,” Tatum says. “Bird, Russell, Paul Pierce and those guys. They paved the way. The one thing all those guys have is chips. I have to get to the top of the mountain to even be considered as one of those guys. I want to be an all-time great, I want to be known as a winner, and I believe I will be.”

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After a disappointing season — one where the Celtics hit obstacles before training camp even opened, like having their coach suspended — Boston made bold moves this offseason to build a more offensive-minded roster in the mold of coach Joe Mazzulla. Marcus Smart is out (now in Memphis) and Kristaps Porzingis is in, giving the team more scoring along the front line. Tatum understands, however, that it all comes down to him and Brown as franchise leaders.

“I’m still 25 and he’ll be 27 in two months,” Tatum says. “We’re far from perfect. We won’t get the credit we deserve until we win a championship. That is the ultimate goal, but you can’t bypass all the things we’ve accomplished in the six years we’ve been teammates at a very young age. We’ve been to the playoffs every single year, we’ve gotten better. Yes, it took some time to figure out how we can be as special as we can be, and how we can co-exist and do it together. I know everybody says, ‘They take turns.’ I feel like we got to a place where we were feeding off each other, playing really well.”

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Boston is banking on that chemistry to return the team to the NBA Finals and take that next step. Mazzulla has a year of experience — saying he was outcoached by Erik Spoelstra in the Eastern Conference Finals is a cop-out, Spoelstra outcoaches everyone — plus he has a better staff around him, the roster is tweaked and healthy (or, Porzingis is supposed to be), and the Celtics enter the season with championship expectations.

As it should be in Boston. If Tatum wants to be on the Celtics’ Mount Rushmore, he has to live up to those expectations. He understands that better than anyone.

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