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Jayson Tatum Says He Watched Kobe Bryant Film Ahead of Celtics' Game 7 Win Over Heat

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 30, 2022

MIAMI, FL - MAY 29: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates with the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award after Game 7 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals on May 29, 2022 at the FTX Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum said he studied one of the all-time greats ahead of Sunday's Game 7 win over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

According to Jay King of The Athletic, Tatum said he watched some film of late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, adding: "Obviously, that was my idol, that was my inspiration, that was my favorite player. ... Today, before I took my nap, I do it sometimes, I was watching film and some moments from him and his career."

Tatum also divulged why he wore a purple armband emblazoned with Bryant's No. 24:

NBA @NBA

"Just to have something to show him in the biggest game of my career so far." 💜💛<br><br>Jayson Tatum discusses drawing inspiration from Kobe Bryant after winning the first-ever Larry Bird Trophy awarded to the Eastern Conference Finals MVP. <a href="https://t.co/EIkMT6zqlD">pic.twitter.com/EIkMT6zqlD</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

"I got you today”<br><br>Jayson Tatum sent a message to Kobe Bryant before Game 7 ♾🐍 <a href="https://t.co/mMkOPGGI1M">pic.twitter.com/mMkOPGGI1M</a>

In a 100-96 victory, Tatum led the way for Boston with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and he played 46 of 48 minutes, cementing his status as Eastern Conference Finals MVP.

With Sunday's clutch road win, Tatum and the Celtics now move on to the NBA Finals where they will face the Golden State Warriors.

Many young NBA players revere Bryant after watching him while growing up, and it's easy to understand why given everything the Hall of Famer accomplished.

Kobe spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, during which time he became the fourth-leading scorer of all time with 33,643 regular-season points.

Bryant earned 18 All-Star selections, 15 All-NBA nods, 12 All-Defensive Team choices, four All-Star Game MVP awards, two scoring titles and one NBA MVP award.

The postseason was where Bryant truly shined, though, leading the Lakers to five championships and earning NBA Finals MVP honors twice.

Playoff success largely eluded the Tatum-led Celtics during the early part of his career, but that changed Sunday, as he finally broke through with his first Finals appearance.

Tatum is averaging a Kobe-esque 27.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 3.2 three-pointers made during this postseason.

Now, the challenge for the 24-year-old will be keeping that up in the Finals against a stacked and experienced Warriors team led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins.

The Warriors have reached their sixth Finals in the past eight seasons and are in search of their fourth title during that time.

If Tatum can guide the Celtics to victory, it will mark their first championship since 2008, which fittingly came against Bryant and the Lakers.