BOSTON (CBS) — For the new generation of NBA stars, Kobe Bryant was their Michael Jordan. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is part of that generation.

The young Celtics star spoke about Bryant’s legacy on Thursday, following the Lakers star’s tragic passing over the weekend.

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“I was born in ‘98, so I grew up watching him,” Tatum said of Bryant. “Everybody knows he was my favorite player, my inspiration to play basketball. I didn’t get to watch Jordan, so Kobe was it for me.”

That adulation was much more than marveling over Kobe’s career from afar. Tatum was given the opportunity to learn from one of the greats of the game when he worked out with Bryant during the summer of 2018, giving him a first-hand taste of what made Kobe Bryant the cold-blooded assassin he was on the hardwood.

As many others have said before, it was not Bryant taking thousands of jumpers every night. It was his determination to be the best — better than everyone else that took the floor against him.

“For me, the thing I fell in love with about him is his work ethic,” Tatum said of Bryant. “How he wanted to outwork his potential and outwork everybody and prove that he was the best. And that’s exactly what he did.”

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Celtics players have had a difficult time grasping the fact that Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, a tragic accident that took the lives of eight others, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gigi. The Celtics host the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, the team’s first home game since Bryant’s death. The Celtics will forgo their usual pregame introductions and instead honor Bryant.

That will make for an emotional evening for Celtics players, but Tatum is eager to carry on Bryant’s legacy with his own play on the floor.

“Knowing just how competitive he was, and how he gave everything to the game, he would want us to [play],” he said.

Tatum will be back in the Boston lineup Thursday night after missing their three previous games with a groin injury. Head coach Brad Stevens said that Tatum will be on a minutes restriction.

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