BOSTON (CBS) — Jayson Tatum has been on an absolute tear for the Boston Celtics recently, dropping tons of points and leading the team to wins. We’ve seen the 23-year-old play like this in the past, it’s just taken him a little longer to get to that level this season.
A bout with COVID-19 and Boston’s lack of depth (and for that matter, overall health) certainly played into Tatum’s “struggles.” And through those struggles, he’s still been pretty darn good. But he’s lacked that killer instinct and leadership that was been bestowed upon him, and many were calling him out for that during Boston’s struggles.READ MORE: Walker Scores 32 In Return From Injury, Celtics Rout Magic
Former Celtics center and current analyst Kendrick Perkins was one of them, and after a recent airing of grievances on the Celtics postgame show following a Boston loss to the 76ers, Tatum actually reached out to Perkins to hear out his criticisms.
Since that game, Tatum has averaged 34.5 points and the Celtics have won four straight. Perk has taken a bit of a victory lap for Tatum’s play as of late, but Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge isn’t going that far.
During his Thursday morning interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich, Ainge said that while he’s glad that Perk and other greats from the past are available to his current crop of players, he wants to make sure the credit goes to the appropriate party.
“Success has 1,000 fathers and defeat is an orphan. Tatum for the last 12 games, not since the Sixers game, he’s been on a tear playing unbelievable basketball,” Ainge told Toucher & Rich. “I love Perk, but we’ve heard, ‘It takes a village.'”
Ainge welcomes any and all former Celtics — and former opponents of the Celtics — to pass along words of wisdom to his players. But he said it’s up to the players to take those words and use them to their advantage.READ MORE: CBS Sports Ranks Patriots As Having Best Draft In Entire NFL
“I love the fact that Tatum picked up the phone and called Perk. That’s good that they have that connection. I know Perk cares about Tatum’s success,” said Ainge. “I know that players in our league are listening to other players. Kobe was a big mentor for Tatum. There have been a lot, and I like that Jayson listens and takes it well. I’ve had many conversations with Jayson over the years and he’s had unbelievable success as young player, and he does respond to these conversations.”
But Ainge is not giving Perkins all the credit for Tatum’s recent turnaround.
“Those guys do have impact on these players, and they occasionally show up and reach out, and those are all good things. In the midst of this, let’s not give credit to other people. Yes, we need a village to raise our children and I’m all for former players and players who aren’t ex-Celtics to say good things, but it’s still determined by the messages that the players listen to. That’s why the player is the one who deserves the credit for how they’re playing,” he said.
“I’m not dismissing the feedback, but I’m also not giving them all the credit for our player’s play,” added Ainge. “Tatum has been on a roll for four years.”
Tatum and the Celtics will go for the team’s fifth straight win Thursday night when Boston visits the L.A. Lakers.MORE NEWS: Patriots Sign Undrafted Kicker Quinn Nordin