Jayson Tatum caught a lot of flak during the NBA Finals after failing to perform to the standard he had set for himself throughout the playoffs. Tatum won the Eastern Conference Finals MVP, and was excellent in every series, but fell short against the Warriors, who ended up securing their fourth NBA title in eight seasons.
And while many claimed that it showed that Tatum isn't ready to be the main star yet, a man whose opinion is more informed than anyone else on the matter has backed the young superstar. LeBron James, who went through growing pains of his own when he was coming up in the league, compared Tatum's loss to his first loss on the biggest stage against the Spurs in 2007 on The Shop podcast.
“Like, it’s like Jayson Tatum is a beast. He didn’t play to his standards. But to the regular sh*t standards that everybody… He had a hell of a season and that guy’s not even 25. He’ll be back. He got nothing to hang his hat on. He played against the same team as my first Finals. I played against the Spurs. It’s the same sh*t, same sh*t, and they took advantage of me not knowing anything.”
LeBron James got swept in his first trip to the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the Spurs also clinching their fourth title in a decade against his team. The team was an established giant by that point too, with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker being the three-headed monster.
The similarities to the Warriors are uncanny, and Tatum will be heartened by knowing that even the greatest players like LeBron have gone through what he is going through right now. And as Tim Duncan told LBJ after their win, it would be his league soon, so if Tatum can also keep that mentality and continue to improve, not much can stop him from getting a ring before he retired.