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Brad Stevens comes to Tatum's defense: "This is idiotic"

Brad Stevens defends Jayson Tatum

Brad Stevens defends Jayson Tatum

“Jayson Tatum is about Jayson Tatum,” an Eastern Conference assistant coach told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps“I don’t think he cares about winning now, and if he does, it is on his terms.”

Brad Stevens' reaction to Bontemps' report

It's been over a week since an anonymous executive ripped the star forward for prioritizing individual stats over collective success. The Celtics are 2-2 since, and Tatum is in the middle of his worst four-game stretch of the season -- 18.3 points on 32% from the floor.

Jayson, otherwise an elite scorer, is one of the few NBA stars struggling with efficiency through the first quarter of the season -- the list also includes Damian Lillard and James Harden. But his below-standard play and attempt to shoot his way out of the slump should in no way be interpreted as apathy towards winning.

Brad Stevens, Tatum's former coach and the team's President of Basketball Operations, came to J's defense in a recent appearance on sports talk radio show “Toucher and Rich. “

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“I take it with such a grain of salt,” he said. “To me, that line was a joke because I’m around [Tatum] every day. You look at him; he plays, he’s available, he competes, he’s got a lot on his plate. He’s done a lot more in his first five years in the league than most of the league, right? Totally, totally wrong in that guy’s assessment. I thought that quote was absolutely ridiculous, to be honest.

It wasn't just the quote that rubbed Stevens the wrong way -- it's a fact the person behind it said it anonymously. “If you can’t put your name on it, don’t say it,” he continued. “There is no way that assistant coach would put his name on that quote because, first of all, he has never been around Jayson. And, secondly, Jayson would kill him every time he played him for the rest of his career. That’s the way those guys in this league are wired.”

Tatum's redemption act

In fairness to Bontemps, league-connected individuals often demand anonymity when giving out information. That was probably the case with the article in question. But that doesn't make his source right, especially when a guy who's been around Tatum his entire NBA career is doing his best to refute it.

I don’t ever react to that stuff. I actually sent a note to one of the people I work with like, ‘This is idiotic.’ Just be around this guy every day. That guy loves to win. He’s sitting there with his feet in the ice bucket after every game that we lose, and he looks despondent. This guy’s competitive. I know that for a fact. I’m glad he’s on our team.

Brad Stevens, The Sports Hub’s: Toucher and Rich

Tatum's cold-shooting start to the season forced the 23-year-old to look for different ways to put an end to his slump. Over the last two games -- the Celtics are 2-0 -- Jayson has embraced more of a playmaking role, especially in a game against the Raptors when he dished out ten assists. Would a selfish guy make such an adjustment? I don't think so.

The Celtics forward is having a cold-scoring stretch. So let's not make too much of it. And let's not doubt his mentality and approach to the game. The 23-year-old has proved his mind is in the right place time and time again, and he has a five-year sample size to back it up.

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