Tatum Logs Weekend of Dream-Like Moments at All-Star

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Jayson Tatum can’t believe the history he was a part of Sunday night in Cleveland at the 71st NBA All-Star game.

Forget what happened between the lines during Team LeBron’s thrilling 163-160 victory over Tatum’s Team Durant. Being on hand for what happened outside the lines was what Tatum referenced multiple times as a dream-like experience.

The NBA used halftime of Sunday’s All-Star game to honor the 75 greatest players in NBA history, announcing them one-by-one during a historic, 25-minute celebration at center court. At the end of the ceremony, 46 of the 61 living members of the 75th Anniversary Team were standing together at midcourt as Tatum, his teammates and an arena full of basketball lovers showered the legends with roaring applause.

“Watching that was incredible,” Tatum said after the game. “Some people I’d never heard of; most of them I have. Just seeing the majority of those guys in one building… it was a dream come true to see all those people.”

That ceremony and the ancillary game was the crescendo of the NBA’s celebration of its 75th season. It brought together stars of the past, present and future like never before.

Yes, the league put together a similar celebration back in 1997, but so much history has been written into the NBA’s legacy since. Adding those 25 years of memories and basketball greatness made this weekend one of a kind, and one which delivered multiple “pinch me” moments to Tatum prior to the arrival of Sunday night's game.

One such moment arrived for the now three-time All-Star and two-time All-Star starter earlier in the day on Sunday, and another arrived Saturday.

Tatum was in the building before the game on Sunday to have his photos taken, which just so happened to be at the same time as many of the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team members were in getting their photos taken as well. Tatum wound up running into Celtics legend Kevin McHale. The next thing they knew, a whole crew of Celtics legends had gathered, including Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Robert Parish.

“They were doing their pictures upstairs, and it was the same time we were taking ours,” Tatum recalled. “We just happened to be right there. I was talking to Kevin McHale, then Paul came over, and then KG came over, and [then Parish, and we took a picture].”

That picture, as Tatum revealed, will be going up on his wall in the very near future.

“That was incredible. I kinda felt like I didn’t even belong in that picture, because of all that they’ve accomplished and what they mean to the game, and especially to the Celtics,” he said. Tatum soon added, “Just being in that picture with them – that was pretty special. I’ll frame it and I’ll always remember it.”

Later in the night, another photo would be taken that would fall into the ‘dream’ category for the 23-year-old star. It’s one that was taken alongside a current teammate in Grant Williams, and two of Tatum’s superstar idols: Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade. The photo was posted to social media by Tatum, Williams and Wade and went viral. Fans were given a peak into the significance of the moment Sunday night thanks to Wade being a member of TNT’s broadcast team for the All-Star game.

Tatum joined the broadcast team from the bench for a live interview via a headset toward the end of the second quarter. During that interview, Wade asked what that moment and that conversation with Iverson and Wade meant to him.

“That’s something you dream about,” Tatum said with a smile. “Sitting there chopping it up with you and A.I., two guys I looked up to as a kid growing up. I had a chance to play against you and now to get a relationship with A.I., man… that’s what you dream about as a kid and that’s what this is all about.”

Really, that is what this particular All-Star weekend was all about.

Forget about Tatum’s eight points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals during the game, because this weekend wasn’t about the actual game that was played. Instead, it was about the celebration of the history of the game and the league as a whole.

Tatum was a part of that celebration in Cleveland. He logged a unique and accidental moment with a handful of Celtics greats that will hang on his wall for years to come. He had a special conversation with Iverson and Wade, during which Iverson praised his game. Then, on Sunday, he shared the court with 46 of the greatest basketball players to ever live.

That’s history – history to which Tatum will surely build upon for years to come.