Jayson Tatum’s maturity extends well beyond the basketball court.
Tatum quickly has made a name for himself in the NBA for his polished and smooth game. Kemba Walker certainly is a fan of Tatum the player, but the veteran point guard seems to be more impressed with the type of person the 21-year-old is.
Walker and Tatum, both Jordan-brand athletes, recently spent some time together in Paris, not long before the start of NBA free agency. The two chopped it up quite a bit, and Tatum evidently left a strong impression on the three-time All-Star, who soon will start his next chapter with the Celtics after eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets.
“We spoke for quite some time. Jayson’s such a good guy, such a great player,” Walker said in a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “For the most part, I like being around high-character guys with work ethic. Just guys who I can be around, be myself around. That’s kind of the vibe I got from JT when I was around him. When we left Paris, as the days went on and free agency came and I made my decision, a lot was because of him.”
Given his typical demeanor, Celtics fans likely won’t be surprised to learn Tatum wasn’t overly aggressive in his recruiting of Walker.
“He didn’t say ‘come here’ at all,” Walker said. “It was more so about the city, about the fans, the atmosphere, coach (Brad) Stevens, some of the players on the team, last year and how things went — just stuff like that. Not once did he say, ‘come.’ Not once.’
Walker did some recruiting himself upon agreeing to join the C’s. After touching down in Boston on the eve of free agency, Walker quickly hopped on a phone call with Enes Kanter at the request of president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Walker was more direct in his approach than Tatum, but the result was the same: an important signing for Boston.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images