Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum will carry a 10th streak at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, the same number that Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant brought for Team USA.
Bryant was Tatum’s favorite player to grow up and finally became a mentor for the ongoing superstar before his death last year. With the 2021 Games being the first since Bryant’s death, Tatum feels honored to carry the n. 10.
“With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, he has a lot more value,” Tatum said, according to him The Associated Press (h / t ESPN). “It’s not something I take lightly.”
He added: “It’s a tremendous honor. And I’ll carry it proudly.”
Tatum has led No. 10 for Basketball USA on several occasions, including the FIBA Americas U-16 Championships and the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The number now has a different meaning for the All-Star, who believes it’s important to honor Bryant’s legacy.
Tatum knew Bryant very well. They’ve worked together, and Bryant often offers them advice, which could be part of the reason why the young Celtics star is so good today. The 23-year-old shared a specific piece of advice Bryant gave him while speaking to reporters Wednesday:
“I remember a speech, it could have been after a game, and he was saying that a lot of people don’t understand what you’re doing,” Tatum said. “He said,‘ What I mean by this is, those who really want to be great and who really want to be special really take that mindset whatever it takes. “He told me it takes sacrifice, because the last question is how much you’re willing to give up to be great.”
Bryant won gold medals with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Tatum now hopes to honor Bryant’s legacy by placing a 10th and leading the Americans to their fourth gold medal. straight to his first Olympic tournament.
As The Associated Press notes, the No. 10 is one of the best numbers in the sport as some of the greatest athletes in the world have carried it, including Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Landon Donovan, Carli Lloyd, Eli Manning, Dennis Rodman and Steve Nash, among others.