'Boston is Special': Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Discuss Bond with City They Star in

May 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) and forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrate during the second half of their win over the Milwaukee Bucks in game seven of the second round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
May 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) and forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrate during the second half of their win over the Milwaukee Bucks in game seven of the second round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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While there are certainly exceptions, like the relationship between Celtics fans and Kevin Garnett, generally speaking, the bond between homegrown franchise players and the city they star in runs deeper than later arrivals.

The New England region has seen Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown become men. They've been there as the two matured from teenagers to young adults, navigates fatherhood in the former's case, and as the star tandem strives to reach the NBA summit, a journey they might complete on the TD Garden parquet on Monday.

Boston Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown celebrate after the team's win in Game 3 of the 2024 NBA Finals.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Regarding the latter, it's an ascension that hasn't received enough credit for how quickly they approached the mountain's peak and their ability to start at the base each year, climb to the Eastern Conference Finals in five of their six seasons together, and come within two wins of Banner 18 in 2022.

Fair or not, the Celtics' championship pedigree and the history of winning in a region whose sports teams treated them to 10 titles in 17 years, shapes how success short of that standard gets processed.

"It did take some time," said Tatum of getting drafted by and entering the NBA on a franchise with championship expectations. "For one, normally, when you're a top-five draft pick, you go to a lottery team that is rebuilding. I was in a unique situation from the rest of the guys in my draft class, in that the Celtics were the No. 1 seed in the East before. We were competing for a championship ever since I've gotten here.

"It brings me back to my earlier years. I would talk to guys in my draft class, and they were losing 15 games in a row. And me, I'm fighting for the 1 seed, and I'm on a veteran team that's trying to win. When you come into the NBA, you just think every organization, every franchise is the same. That couldn't be any further from the truth.

"I've been fortunate to be a part of something that is special, that has had some of the greatest players to ever play wear this uniform. You realize early on that it's an honor, and it raises your level of commitment, I felt like, to this city and to this franchise."

Celtics star Jayson Tatum celebrates with TD Garden crowd during Game 7 win vs. 76ers in 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

When the St. Louis, Missouri native arrived as a 19-year-old, he didn't realize the expectations he was about to get held to. To fully grasp that, he had to learn more than the common knowledge about the Celtics and gain an understanding of what came before him.

"I would say just throughout that season, I had no idea who Cedric Maxwell was," shared Tatum of a lesson learned during his rookie campaign. "I thought he was just like a radio guy. I didn't know that he played on the team and (that) he won Finals MVP.

"So, there were just different instances throughout the season in my rookie year where I would learn about different people that played an intricate part in this organization, the history throughout the Celtics, and what the Celtics mean to the game of basketball. You grow a level of appreciation through your time here."

That would surely make helping lead the team that raises Banner 18 to the TD Garden rafters that much sweeter. Perhaps it's also aided Tatum in dealing with the pressure of starring in a sports-crazed region with championship expectations.

"I don't look at it as pressure," conveyed the five-time All-Star. "I do notice, especially this time of the season, playoff time, and obviously, being in the Finals for the second time. When you drive around and go to the gas station, or, I wanted to go get some ice cream yesterday, it's Celtics gear everywhere, and everybody is super excited about this team and what we have accomplished and what we have the chance to accomplish.

"You really just feel the love and support from everybody in the city of Boston, and how bad they want us to win, how much they have been cheering for us. So, I don't look at it as pressure. Just unconditional support, and that we have an amazing fan base here."

Echoing that sentiment, Jaylen Brown shared of his bond with Boston, "It's definitely a blessing to be here, to represent the Celtics, my family, the organization, the community, our greater community. It's an honor that I don't take lightly.

"So, just to come out every night and play for something, for what I represent, I think that matters. My relationship with Boston has grown. I've been here for almost nine years now, since I was 18, (or) 19 years old. I've grown up. I've become a man here. Boston is special."

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown fires up the TD Garden crowd during the 2022 NBA Finals.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In his eight years as a Celtic, the Marietta, Georgia native has evolved into an All-NBA selection and a leader who established his own organization, the 7uice Foundation, dedicated to fighting systemic racism.

The 7uice Foundation also developed the Bridge Program, which works with the Community Biotechnology Initiative at the MIT Media Lab to provide science and technology opportunities for children in Boston's underserved communities.

Brown's not only forged a connection with Boston, his impact has elevated the city. Knowing the opportunity in front of him, a chance to achieve his ultimate goal, potentially usher in a dynasty, and what it would mean to the region -- and Celtics fans worldwide -- the three-time All-Star capped his answer about his bond with Boston by stating: "I'm looking forward to Game 5."

While he and Tatum have already carved out a place in the hearts of Celtics fans, if they're lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy shortly after the final buzzer blows on Monday, they'll become immortalized in the city they star in.

Further Reading

Celtics Discuss Keeping Mavs from Building on Dominant Game 4

Dependable Xavier Tillman Discusses Learning to 'Be a Star in Your Own Role'

Celtics Detail Keys to Perhaps Their Best Quarter This Postseason

Celtics Weather Late Storm to Move Within One Win of Banner 18

Sports Doctor Details Challenges, Risks of Kristaps Porzingis Playing in NBA Finals

Jrue Holiday's 'Championship DNA' Rubbing Off on Celtics

Stifling Defense Moves Celtics Halfway to Banner 18

Jayson Tatum's Joy Outweighing Pressure of NBA Finals Return

Inside the Moment that Propelled Celtics to NBA Finals Game 1 Win

Celtics Set the Tone for the NBA Finals with Game 1 Haymaker


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Bobby Krivitsky

BOBBY KRIVITSKY

Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.