Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can tell the world that they are great partners, best friends, and Secret Santas exchanged every hour of every day, but words aren’t as convincing as actions.
So let’s take the tape to the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday, as the Celtics plunged the Miami Heat into oblivion. Until 20, the Celts search for the dagger. Tatum paints a double team on the left wing and Brown finds himself open on the other side of the court, about 28 feet from the basket, and presents him with an F side for the FTX Arena logo.
Tatum sways and Braun gets into a long triple pointer to check the heat. “Live!” As Mike Breen might say, but what happens next speaks volumes about the one and only relationship that should matter to the two stars.
When the Celtics bench explodes at the 83-60 bullets, Tatum leans back, arms wide, and exults. Part victory, part relief, the whole pose is in support of his partner in this unlikely run that is now just a game away from the NBA Finals.
“Do they love each other?” We’ve wondered so much for the past couple of years, as if he hoped the answer would be no so that we could justify their division in a move that would define myopia.
It is irrelevant. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale weren’t particularly close, and that didn’t stop them from winning three championships. Better Questions: Do they support each other? Do they play each other? Do they realize that their partnership is the key to raising the 18 banner?
That Wednesday moment in a blast — Tatum realized he couldn’t do it alone, and Brown was in perfect position to save him from trouble, Tatum’s real celebration — told us everything we needed to know.
These two are in it together and it’s likely that not even Steve Curry and the Golden State Warriors will be able to stop them.
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“We just have to go out and play basketball,” Brown said. “We feel there aren’t a lot of people who can play basketball with us. And when it starts, when I start, we know we’re going to put ourselves in a good place to win.”
And that’s all that really matters. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won six titles together in Chicago and didn’t even talk to each other today. Pippen told Vanity Fair that the two never developed a bond out of court, but that “our relationship between the lines was flawless.”
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant eventually reconciled, but their feud over nine years and three titles together in Los Angeles has been so intense, it deserves its own 7,000-word Wikipedia page. It’s where you can remember that after the Celtics beat the Kobe Lakers in the 2008 Finals, Shaq criticized his former teammate for having to “tell me what my ass tastes like.” They look like best friends! Closer to home, the next time Rajon Rondo hears Ray Allen’s name without spitting, he’ll be the first.
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With these comparisons, it might be Tatum and Affleck Brown and Damon or Romy and Michelle or the intimidating Lewis and Clark. No one ever suggested that they could not stand in plain sight of each other.
There was no hint of jealousy that Tatum is a first-team player in the NBA and Brown is “only” an All-Star by comparison. You don’t hear your family members speaking badly either in the way some Celtics supposedly resented, for example, placing Gordon Hayward as a nation favourite with then coach Brad Stevens.
What you see is two stars – one of which is a legitimate star – uniting in an unstoppable force. Brown is 25 years old and signed until 2024. Tatum is 24 and will be in Boston until at least 2025.
They have an appearance for each other and enjoy each other’s success. Tatum made it clear in one revealing moment Wednesday.
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They are on the cusp of becoming the next powerhouse duo in the NBA. Their presence alone will attract veteran talent to Boston in search of a ring. They have an appearance for each other and enjoy each other’s success. Tatum made it clear in one revealing moment Wednesday.
So let this put an end to the question of how compatible they are. It simply does not matter. They make magic in the Celtics in green, and the only time we should care to see them together off the field is to raise the trophy together at the show.