Celtics’ Jayson Tatum Reveals Lakers ‘Didn’t Want Anything To Do With Me’ In 2017 NBA Draft

In the mid-2010s, the Los Angeles Lakers regularly found themselves in the draft lottery as they attempted to rebuild following the retirement of Kobe Bryant. The team drafted the likes of Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle during that time, but it’s the 2017 NBA draft that stands out the most in the eyes of many, as the Lakers picked Lonzo Ball second overall and beat the Boston Celtics enabled Jayson Tatum to move up third.

It seemed like the right move at the time, but in hindsight the selection wasn’t good because while Ball has developed into a starting-class NBA point guard, Tatum is shaping up to be one of the NBA’s brightest young Superstars. Tatum really made that leap this season after leading the Celtics to the 2022 NBA Finals.

What makes Lakers fans worse is that Tatum was a die-hard fan of theirs and Bryant growing up, and in an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Elizabeth Sherill, he admits it would have been a dream come true to join the purple and gold :

“The Lakers were my favorite team, and Kobe was my favorite player,” said Tatum, who wore a purple #24 bracelet to honor Bryant in Boston’s win over the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “So it was crazy that the Lakers had second pick and I was so close to a dream come true. But it was like they didn’t want anything to do with me at the time.”

From the moment the Lakers landed that second overall pick, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Ball would be the pick. The Lakers were so fixated on ball they didn’t even bring Tatum to practice, which Tatum certainly used as motivation.

Scouting and the draft is an imprecise science, and there are numerous examples of picks that teams would want to repeat if they had the opportunity to go back and do it again. Tatum with the Lakers would have been a dream come true for him, and things would have been very different in the NBA if that had happened. But the decisions have been made and unfortunately nothing can be changed now.

Tatum pays tribute to Kobe Bryant during Game 7 of the ECF

Not only was Tatum a huge fan of Bryant growing up, but he had the opportunity to work with the Lakers legend early in his career. Tatum continues to show Kobe love and respect, and during the crucial Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he paid tribute to the Lakers legend by wearing an armband in his honor.

While it was certainly a little odd to see purple and gold on a Celtics player’s arm, the love and admiration for Kobe Bryant transcends all else.

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