Jayson Tatum recreated Kobe Bryant’s Celtics draft workout outfit ahead of NBA Finals

Jayson Tatum grew up with Kobe Bryant’s idol as a child in St. Louis. When he was drafted into the NBA by the Boston Celtics in 2017, Tatum quickly emerged as one of the game’s top young wingers and Bryant took notice. The Lakers legend took the young Celtics star under his wing, training with him in the off-season and analyzing his film session for Bryant’s ESPN show.

Tatum has continued to do what it takes to keep Bryant’s legacy alive following his tragic death in January 2020 in a helicopter crash. Tatum posted an emotional Instagram tribute to Bryant following his death, subtly honoring him during Boston’s run to the NBA Finals this season. Tatum recreated Bryant’s SLAM magazine photoshoot earlier this year rocked a No. 24 armband in Game 7 the Celtics win over the Miami Heat.

Boston took down the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals Game 1 despite shooting from the field at 3-17. Before Game 2, Tatum showed up in old Celtics gear for practice. Observant observers noted that it was the same outfit Bryant wore to his 1996 draft workout with Boston.

ESPN’s Baxter Holmes wrote an article a few years ago about Bryant’s draft practice with the Celtics. Bryant joined the league from Philadelphia’s Lower Merion High School and wowed the Celtics front office in a private setting. Boston was reportedly tempted to go with the high schooler with the first-round pick, who was No. 6 overall, but chose Kentucky Wildcats star Antoine Walker instead.

Bryant, of course, would go to Boston’s biggest rivals, the Lakers, and win five championships with the franchise.

It might seem unlikely that a young Celtics star would idolize a Lakers legend, but the connection between Tatum and Bryant clearly goes beyond the rivalry between the two teams. We’ll see if Tatum can live up to Bryant’s legacy for the rest of the NBA Finals.

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