BOSTON — Jayson Tatum looks tired, and maybe a bit preoccupied with something bigger. With days to go before the start of the regular season, the Boston Celtics’ sophomore star had a hard day of practice as the team prepared for the long road that they hope culminates in a championship. Tatum then rushed from practice to a high school in Roxbury (Ma.) to shoot a Gatorade commercial. And then, unfortunately, he had to sit down and talk to me.
Perched in a director’s chair with a Celtics jersey and a pair of Kyrie 4s, Tatum was sworn to secrecy on exactly what he was shooting for Gatorade at a Boston high school on a Tuesday night. But amid the photographers and directors politely asking him to pose with water bottles and dribble and shoot baskets, a process that was occasionally interrupted by a person with a spray bottle applying fake sweat to his forearms, Tatum stressed again and again that he loves these opportunities.
“I enjoy doing these things, especially with Gatorade,” Tatum says. “It’s a pretty big deal, so I’m excited to be here.”
Being Jayson Tatum these days, even the long ones, doesn’t seem so bad. He got to play pickup basketball with his idol, Kobe Bryant, this summer. Tatum has a real relationship with him now, and the player he modeled his game after helps him find a game all his own. Companies like Gatorade and Nike want to work with him. He’s even gotten to do photo shoots with GQ. This photo shoot is a bit different than that, but it’s still nice.
“I’ve always thought I was a handsome guy, so I was excited when I got the opportunity to do the GQ thing,” Tatum says. “Hopefully more opportunities will continue to come.”
Tatum embraces his newfound celebrity, even as he’s pulled in a lot of directions, which is something that will happen when he’s on the floor for the Celtics this season as well. It’s a Boston team that’s loaded with talent and players that have to play. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are back, but Tatum thrived in his expanded role out during his first year out of Duke for a Celtics team that was a game away from the NBA Finals without a pair of All-Stars.