Why Tatum questioned himself as a leader after tough losses


Jayson Tatum already has battled through quite a bit of adversity in his young NBA career.

The Boston Celtics star has made the postseason in all five of his seasons and clinched two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals before this year. He came up short in those appearances, but he and the C's finally got over the hump in the 2022 playoffs by beating the Miami Heat in seven games.

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The first half of the 2021-22 regular season may have been Tatum's toughest challenge yet. Boston was fighting to maintain a .500 record and found itself 11th in the Eastern Conference standings. Those struggles led many to believe it was time to split up the Tatum and Jaylen Brown tandem.

Through all of the trials and tribulations, Tatum was his own harshest critic.

“I’ll be honest, for myself, there have been times where I questioned, am I the right person to kind of lead a group like this,” Tatum said on Wednesday. “Never like doubted myself, but just moments after some of those losses and the tougher parts of the season.

"That’s human nature to kind of question yourself and things like that. But just always stick to what you believe in and trust in the work that you’ve put in. It can’t rain forever.”

Tatum's belief in himself paid dividends as he earned his third All-Star nod and the first All-NBA First Team selection of his career. He was named the inaugural Larry Bird Trophy winner as MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Now, he'll have a chance to lead the Celtics to their first title since 2008 and bring that elusive Banner 18 to TD Garden.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off at 9 p.m. ET Thursday at Chase Center. Tune in to NBC Sports Boston at 7:30 p.m. for Celtics Pregame Live.

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