Kemba, Tatum Enjoying All-Star Together, But Anxious To Face Off
CHICAGO – Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum love being teammates with the Boston Celtics. Make no mistake about this, however: they’re excited to be opponents Sunday night.
Walker will be a starter for Team Giannis when the 69th NBA All-Star game tips off at 8 p.m. ET Sunday night at the United Center. Tatum, meanwhile, will be a reserve for the opposing squad, Team LeBron.
The two stars spoke Saturday morning at All-Star Media Day about being on opposite teams and made it very clear that they’re looking forward to the experience of playing against one another in the NBA’s showcase game.
“It’s gonna be fun,” Walker, who spoke to the media first Saturday, said with a big smile. “Obviously we play on the same team and see each other all the time, so it’ll be good to get a chance to get out there and go up against him. I’m looking forward to it.”
Tatum echoed a similar sentiment before immediately diving into the potential of a one-on-one matchup with his 6-foot teammate.
“Hopefully we get matched up once or twice so I can take him to the post,” Tatum said. “I’m gonna go right at him.”
Tatum clearly intends to take advantage of his eight-inch height advantage over Walker. Meanwhile, on the other side of the matchup, the speedy point guard intends to give Tatum a dose of his own medicine.
“Oh, I’m gonna hit him with his own move,” Walker quipped to Celtics.com. “I already got it down pat. I’m gonna hit him with the step-back to the right or left, which he usually does. I’mma get him.”
The two players said they don’t have any friendly wagers placed on their impending matchup, but Tatum did say of the proposition, “We should. That’d be fun.”
To the surprise of many in attendance Saturday, Walker revealed that the two players have already gone at each other once this weekend. He said that he and Tatum played a game of NBA 2k against each other Friday.
“We talked a little trash yesterday. We played 2K,” Walker said. “I played with my All-Star team. He played with his team. I won, so right now, I got the head up right now.”
Tatum responded by joking that he was just being a good guy by letting Walker win.
“I wanted to make him feel good about himself, about the weekend,” he said with a smile. “He’s gotta see me tomorrow.”
The two players had fun speaking about their friendly competition but also made sure to explain just how special it is for each of them to be here with the other.
This is Walker’s fourth All-Star appearance. He has never had a teammate join him for the event. He said that having Tatum in town with him brings a new element to his experience.
“I think that’s been the biggest difference, just having a teammate here who I’m able to enjoy it with,” he said.
It is a big difference, because these two players aren’t just casual friends. They are two basketball stars who have grown closer and closer to one another since Walker joined the Celtics in July, as Tatum elaborated on Saturday morning.
“Kemba, that’s my guy,” said Tatum. “Our relationship and friendship has grown a lot over this season so far, from USA Basketball to playing on the Celtics to experiencing All-Star together. It’s been a good ride. We’re enjoying it.”
Something tells us one of them will enjoy Sunday a little bit more than the other. After all, only one of them can come out on top with a win, and only one of them can come out on top in their individual matchup.