Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum loves the late Kobe Bryant. So much so that he sent a text Kobe’s old number saying, “I got you today,” before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and dressed in the same outfit Kobe wore for his Celtics draft workout in a practice before Game 2 of the NBA Finals. But with the Celtics tied 1-1 with the Golden State Warriors, how does Tatum up the ante for the remainder of the series? Because, sure, texting a dead man’s number and then posting the screenshots online is a little creepy, but we’re sure Tatum can go much, much further.
Jayson Tatum shows up to the TD Garden wearing an all-white outfit, complete with bow tie and a white headband below an Amish-looking hat, and announces he’s going to be “White Hot” from the field that night. Then he channels his inner Mamba and refuses to throw a single pass to a teammate. At the end of the 4th quarter, he pays tribute to Kobe’s playoff debut by shooting four straight air balls in a loss.
Between Games 3 and 4, he films a viral video of himself leaping over a moving duck boat while wearing a “2004 Western Conference Champions” sweatshirt.
Tatum bounces back with a big Game Four, and after the game, he thanks the Bryant family for letting him borrow Kobe’s game-worn jockstrap from the 2001 NBA Finals. He also credits the four liters of Sprite he drank before the game, claiming it was “how Kobe would have obeyed his thirst.”
With the weekend off, Tatum flies to Philadelphia to take the SAT on Saturday morning, while wearing a Lower Merion High School jersey. He sends a telegram to Kobe via Western Union: “JOB’S NOT FINISHED STOP I SKIPPED THE ANALOGIES SECTION STOP”
On Sunday night, Tatum put son a tuxedo takes out singer Brandy Norwood, as a homage to Kobe’s senior prom. He hires a plane to write, “Dear Kobe. I’m gonna get to second base tonight,” causing Brandy to slap him and leave before the date even begins.
Jayson Tatum arrives at the Chase Center carrying the Kobe and LeBron puppets from the old Nike ads, and performs a very poor ventriloquism routine where he makes the LeBron puppet call him “The future of the Eastern Conference.” Walking alongside him is David Alan Grier, who later reveals Tatum paid him $200,000 to voice the Kobe puppet and say, “Jayson, I’m proud of you.” Tatum then refuses to shoot in the second half as a tribute to Kobe’s Game 7 of the 2006 Western Conference Finals.
After the game, Tatum sends a message in Morse code to what he believes is Kobe’s underwater submarine: MAM-BA MEN-TA-LI-TY.
During the subsequent off day, Tatum holds an angry press conference where he demands that Brad Stevens trade Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd before the series ends. Then he explains to Shaquille O’Neal in graphic detail exactly how his ass tastes.
To motivate himself, before Game 6, Tatum goes to the home of 46-year-old retired former Laker Samaki Walker and demands $100. Confused, Walker tries to shut the door, and Tatum sucker punches him. Tatum scores 45 points as the Celtics even the series.
On the way to the West Coast, Tatum stops off in Salt Lake City and demands that Karl Malone stop hitting on his wife. At 2 AM, he calls Phil Jackson’s house in Montana and when a disoriented Phil picks up, Tatum growls “Job’s not finished” and hangs up the phone.
Before the game, Tatum recreates another classic Kobe moment by inviting former New York Knicks guard Chris Childs to punch him in the face twice. This backfires when Tatum’s eye quickly swells shut. It’s especially damaging because Tatum is essentially defenseless, since on one hand he’s holding “Little Mamba,” the sock puppet from Bryant’s “Canvas City” set, and with the other, he’s frantically writing a poem about basketball.
In a tribute to Kobe’s Game 7 performance in the 2010 Finals, Tatum proceeds to shoot 6-24 from the field and afterward, tells the media that it’s what Kobe would have wanted. “He loved it when the Celtics lost,” says Tatum, kissing his Eastern Conference Finals MVP trophy and pointing to the sky. Then Tatum leaves to record a rap verse for a remix of a Destiny’s Child song.