Celtics' Jayson Tatum Talks All-Star Nod, Ruffles Partnership in B/R Exclusive

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2021

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) handles the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)
Sam Hodde/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are kings of the NBA with 17 championships each.

Turns out, they are also the leaders in the chip game.

First, Anthony Davis teamed up with Ruffles to launch Ruffles Lime and Jalapeno chips last year. Now, Jayson Tatum is partnering with the company to help release a new signature chip, Ruffles Flamin' Hot BBQ.

"I like to highlight things about my childhood and where I'm from," the St. Louis native told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "So Flamin' Hot BBQ, I love spicy food and anything I can do to make what I'm eating spicy or give it that extra kick. I always do. And then, St. Louis is known for barbecue. So I think that combination goes together really, really well. I'm sure fans will love it."

Photo Credit: Ruffles

This is the first time Frito-Lay has combined its barbecue flavor with its Flamin' Hot kick.

While Tatum laughed when saying he thinks his chips will taste better than the ones featuring Davis, he saw Ruffles' partnership with the Lakers big man as an inspiration instead of a bar to clear as a member of the rival Celtics. 

"I like doing things that are genuine, that are natural," he said. "I love chips ... I've been eating Ruffles chips ever since I was a kid. I remember last year when Anthony Davis had the partnership with them, I thought that was really cool and I was thinking if I ever got that opportunity, if that ever came up, that would be a no-brainer for me. It did, and I'm very thankful and happy to be part of the family."

Ruffles will release two new commercials featuring Davis and T-Pain during the NBA All-Star Game on March 7 and the Grammy Awards on March 14.

Photo Credit: Ruffles

Those who tune in for the All-Star Game will also get the chance to see Tatum, who was recognized as an All-Star for the second straight season. He and teammate Jaylen Brown were named All-Star reserves on Tuesday.

They were well-deserved selections with Tatum averaging 25.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game and Brown tallying 25.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

While it will not be a typical All-Star Weekend with all the basketball events crammed into one day with the skills competition and three-point contest taking place during the pregame and the dunk contest taking place at halftime, Tatum said he told Brown to "just enjoy it" even though "this year is going to be so much different. I don't even know what to expect."

There is also something of an uncomfortable juxtaposition for the Celtics All-Stars at this point of the season.

On one hand, they are being recognized for their individual greatness. On the other hand, Boston has lost three in a row and is just 7-14 in its last 21 games.

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It is 15-17 overall, which is well below expectations for a franchise that played in three of the last four Eastern Conference Finals. While the superstars have done their part to keep the team afloat, Brown recently said he doesn't feel like an All-Star because of the team's record.

Tatum also told reporters "it's hard to really focus" on the All-Star recognition given the team's record.

Still, he recognized what an honor it is to be named to the game during his conversation with Bleacher Report.

"It's not something you take for granted," the Duke product said. "Very grateful knowing that there's only 24 All-Stars a year and there's 450-some-odd players in the NBA, so it's a big deal. But just knowing what's really, really important is just the success of our team and knowing that we're not living up to our own standards as a team. It's kind of tough to be excited about that when as a team we're not where we want to be."

One silver lining for Boston is the fact the Eastern Conference is wide open.

The Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets are the only teams above .500, which means the Celtics can shoot up the standings just by stringing a handful of wins together. There is plenty of time remaining, and they figure to instantly improve as soon as Marcus Smart is healthy and back on the floor.

"Maybe the break might do us a little good," Tatum said. "But for us, we don't have any time to really relax. It's time. It's time to get it rolling."

The Celtics have a chance to get back on track and start rolling Friday when the face of Ruffles' newest flavor of chips leads his team against the Indiana Pacers in a showdown between Eastern Conference contenders.