SI Story Reveals Jaylen Brown-Jayson Tatum Bond

Jake Curtis

Former Cal star Jaylen Brown has been getting a lot of headlines lately. Much of the attention has been about his words and acts related to racial injustice. But he is also getting notice for his play in the NBA playoffs.

He filled up the stat sheet on Tuesday, when he collected 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks in Boston's 102-99 victory over Toronto, giving the Celtics a 2-0 lead in the series.

Jayson Tatum was even more productive in Tuesday's win, recording 34 points and eight rebounds.

Tatum and Brown play the same small forward position, but they work well together on the court and have developed a strong bond, as reflected in a Tuesday Sports Illustrated story titled "The Bond Between Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum Continues to Strengthen."

Here is an excerpt:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.—Jaylen Brown has a story. He’s going to tell it. Wait … no he’s not. “I can’t throw JT under the bus like that,” Brown said. JT is Jayson Tatum, Brown’s teammate. The story predates that, to high school, when Tatum and Brown were teenagers, chopping it up at an Under Armour camp. Roommates, back when the NBA was little more than a dream.

“He’s always been cool,” Tatum said.

Said Brown, “He was solid. I didn’t have any problems with JT.”

On Tuesday, Boston will attempt to take a commanding 2-0 lead over Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Tatum and Brown are big reasons why. Tatum, 22, emerged as an All-Star in his third season and is averaging nearly 26 points per game in the playoffs. Brown, 23, made a run at an All-Star spot, too, while averaging 20 points of his own this postseason.

“They can do a little bit of everything,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse says. “And they can guard a little bit of everything as well. They can drive it. They can post you if they get the right matchups. A lot of the best players in the league are in that big wing, athletic position that can do about every skill. They’re two way players, both of them.”

Both were the third overall pick in their respective NBA drafts -- Brown in 2016 and Tatum in 2017 -- and their games have matured along parallel paths.

Although Brown and Tatum have similar builds and play the same position, they contribute in different ways.

Though physically similar, Tatum and Brown never saw an issue playing together. Tatum entered the NBA a prolific scorer whose defense has taken a quantum leap this season. Brown entered the NBA an athletic defender, a slasher whose perimeter game has continued to improve. “JB is much more physically gifted than I am, so I’m just playing off his athleticism and quick decisions,” Tatum says. “We feed off each other.”

Their personalites are different too.

Meanwhile, the bond between the two continues to strengthen. They have different personalities. Brown is outspoken, evidenced by his role in the NBA’s push for social justice. Tatum is more reserved. But the tumult of last season seems to have brought them closer together. Being teammates, along with Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker with USA Basketball last summer did, too.

And to think for a while they were merely viewed as pawns as the Celtics tried to maneuver to land one of the elite free agents available in recent years.  It proves again that some of the best deals are the ones that are not made.

Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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