LeBron James has given many rookies their ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moments. Jayson Tatum was one of those guys, courtesy of Kyrie Irving.
King James has ruled over the league’s landscape with an iron fist for over a decade now. He’s evolved from a young superstar on the come-up to being the standard-bearer of basketball excellence today.
One might as well rename the MVP trophy to the LeBron James award – that’s simply how statistically consistent he’s been for 18 straight years in the league.
He’s picked up a ton of accolades, championships and highlight moments through his NBA career. It’s gotten to a point where scoring on LeBron James is the highlight of many players’ careers.
Jayson Tatum probably might have thought he’d get a chance to do that when he first took the NBA floor. But as he describes, James simply said ‘No’ in the most emphatic fashion possible during their first encounter ever.
Jayson Tatum recalls how LeBron James gave him his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment
Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum were guests on the Knuckleheads Podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles a few years ago. It was a very entertaining, illuminating episode that highlights how Kyrie views the game and life.
One of the long-standing traditions of the podcast is for Q&D to ask their NBA guests about the first person to bust their a**es. Given that Tatum and Kyrie had debuted for the Celtics together against LeBron in 2017, a moment from that game was bound to come up.
Tatum described his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment quite vividly to the fascinated listeners:
“I remember the first game I played in Cleveland, first time coming back. I set a screen on somebody and I slipped. Now I ain’t gonna say names, but somebody had the ball and they could’ve threw it right here for the layup.”
“But he threw me a little lob for some hang time. So it took something 4 seconds to get there. As soon as I catch it, somebody (LeBron James) slaps it away.”
The play that Tatum describes was from Opening Day of the 2017-18 NBA season. It was indeed Tatum’s first field goal attempt of his career. And as you can see in this video, James erased that layup attempt as emphatically as the Celtics star describes.