Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum believes the media has changed its tune in a big way as it relates to how he and teammate Jaylen Brown are discussed.
The pair each scored 30 points in a 121-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last Friday. It was the 17th time they had dropped 30-plus in the same game, which is more than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen managed while they were teammates on the Chicago Bulls.
"Last year, y'all wanted to trade one of us," Tatum told reporters following Tuesday's 126-102 victory over the Houston Rockets. "Now you're saying Mike and Scottie. We're not as bad as you said, but we're not as good as Mike and Scottie."
In defense of the Tatum/Brown skeptics, it looked like the Celtics might be approaching a crossroads midway through last season.
When the calendar was turning over to 2022, Boston was 17-19 and ninth in the Eastern Conference. That slow start followed a first-round exit in the 2021 playoffs.
Although the Celtics reached the conference finals three times over a four-year span under former head coach Brad Stevens, you couldn't help but wonder whether the franchise had hit its ceiling and required an offseason reshuffle.
The franchise showed those concerns were misplaced by righting the ship in the second half and getting to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. And Boston hasn't missed a beat in 2022-23 despite the upheaval caused by Ime Udoka's season-long suspension.
The tandem of Tatum and Brown are a big reason for that. Both are on pace to have the best seasons of their careers.
Tatum is fifth in the NBA in scoring (31.1 points per game) and shooting 47.7 percent from the field while averaging the second-most assists (4.1 per game) on the team. Brown is averaging 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds and making nearly 50 percent (49.3) of his shots.
As Tatum said, he and Brown aren't on the same level as Jordan and Pippen because MJ and Scottie won six titles together in Chicago. But they've firmly put to bed the doubts about how far they can carry the Celtics together.