Jayson Tatum’s legacy at risk

What does championship do for Jayson Tatum’s Celtics legacy?

Jayson Tatum has had the talent and the numbers to be put in the same conversation as past Boston Celtics greats. The one glaring omission from his résumé? An NBA championship.

After seven up-and-down seasons, Tatum finally checked that off the list by leading the Celtics over the Dallas Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals. Critics can no longer hold the lack of a title against him, and he made sure to let everyone know that during his candid postgame press conference.

Now that Tatum has a ring, the conversation about his Celtics legacy gets even more interesting. What’s the 26-year-old superstar’s ceiling?

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe joined Tuesday’s Early Edition to share his take.

“You’ve got to think he’s got a decade left, maybe. I mean, if he takes care of himself, which he’s in remarkable shape and always been in great condition,” Washburn said. “He’s gonna put up the numbers. I mean, he’s gonna challenge (John) Havlicek’s record for scoring and then we’ll discuss whether this team can win multiple titles, but this puts him on a different plane. I mean, it gets his number retired obviously, him and Jaylen (Brown). Like his whole image is just different now.”

Washburn also commended Tatum for how he has responded to the naysayers over the years.

“I think Jayson’s handled this remarkably, all the criticism,” he added. “He’s never lashed out. He’s always been a professional with us and you know what? He’s an amazing player, and I think he’s shown that he’s more than just a shooter, more than just a guy who can put the ball in the bucket. He is a guy who can do everything.”

NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg joined the conversation and agreed with Washburn’s assessment of Tatum’s legacy, though he was willing to take it a step further. He believes when all is said and done, Tatum could one day be in the same category as Celtics legends Larry Bird and Bill Russell.

“I think because he’s working with such a long span here, I actually think he will get into that conversation,” Forsberg said. “I know that sounds crazy now, but you have to give the benefit of time and we can’t appreciate right now. Like, Tatum is still on the ascent. We’ve only scratched the surface with what he’s capable of doing. I know it sounds preposterous.

“And Bird, we just never had the same runway to show what he could have done and we could always have to extrapolate out the numbers because he got injured and he never had it. And I get three titles sets him apart from everybody, but I think Tatum has a runway here. Like, you unequivocally just can’t dismiss that if him and Jaylen go on this massive run of a modern dynasty that he won’t land amongst those stars.”

Before embarking on the quest for Banner 19, Tatum will look to get paid this offseason. The five-time All-Star is entering the final year of his contract and is eligible for a $315 million supermax extension.

For now though, Tatum and the C’s remain in celebration mode. They’re taking the championship party to Miami before returning to Boston for Friday’s parade

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *