One year after he trained with NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum has defended that training session with the Black Mamba. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Tatum explained Kobe had nothing to do with his disappointed 2018/19 season.
“I’m still going to shoot the mid-range. I’ve seen all the people talking about the de-Kobeing. Kobe didn’t teach me anything bad. Everything we talked about and he showed me was great. Last year, with the jump I didn’t make that everybody expected, it was not his fault. He’s one of the greatest ever, so everything he taught me was—I’m very grateful, and it helped me. I’ve got to take responsibility for how I played last year not being as big of a jump that people thought. But I’m still going to shoot mid-range.”
All these claims arrived after a story published by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps on Tuesday about the Celtics working to “de-Kobe” Tatum:
“He’d dribble into difficult midrange shots, including fadeaways. Those were shots Kobe Bryant, who worked with Tatum in the summer of 2018, made a living taking—and making. But the NBA has since evolved into a league hyper-focused on shots at the rim and beyond the arc—and, last year, Tatum didn’t take enough of either.
“Among the 96 players who had at least 100 direct isolations last season, according to data from Second Spectrum, Tatum ranked dead last in efficiency, with an average of .70 of a point per play.”
Following an overwhelming season, the Celtics are ready to be one of the contenders to win the East next season, and they expect Tatum to provide the help they need to do so. He had a terrific rookie season, but last year was completely different. This season he has the chance to change the narrative and prove he’s ready to become a star in the league.