Jayson Tatum claims he hasn’t touched a basketball since Celtics’ last game

Jesse Pantuosco
April 14, 2020 - 11:20 am

Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum has kept plenty busy throughout the league’s month-long hiatus, donating meals to less fortunate families in Boston and his native St. Louis, dishing out NBA hot takes (apparently the 22-year-old thought James Harden was a more deserving MVP than Giannis Antetokounmpo last season) and even giving the social networking site Tik Tok a whirl. One thing he hasn’t done? Pick up a basketball.

“I haven’t been able to touch a basketball since our last game in Indiana,” Tatum admitted to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Monday. “I haven’t played basketball in a long time.” If true, that would mean Tatum hasn’t balled in 35 days.

It’s hard to fathom a professional basketball player not having their own hoop but Tatum is not alone in this camp. Antetokounmpo made a similar claim recently while two-time MVP Steph Curry had to buy a hoop for his driveway earlier this month. Tatum has contemplated doing the same, though hooping outdoors may not be practical in Boston, where weather has never been the city’s selling point. “The weather up here isn’t too great,” said Tatum. “Five out of six days it’s raining and it’s still pretty cold up here, so it’s not the best conditions to be outside playing.”

Tatum has done the best he can to maintain his fitness level, lifting weights and keeping up with his cardio (he was seen breaking a sweat on Instagram recently), though the third-year forward acknowledged it’s going to take time for players to get back into game condition. “It’s a difficult time right now,” said February’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month. “It’s not like it’s the offseason and guys are able to work out and get in the gym.”

Over the weekend, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst shared it would likely take 25 days for the NBA to get up and running again once the government deems it safe to resume play. “An 11-day series of individual workouts, where there would be social distancing for a period of time,” said Windhorst, detailing the NBA’s return plan on SportsCenter. “And then hopefully if the clearance comes that they can play five-on-five basketball, a 14-day training camp.”

With the coronavirus continuing to affect daily life, not just in America but worldwide, plans to finish the NBA’s interrupted season may prove overly ambitious. Commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t expect a decision before May 1, while Windhorst expressed earlier this month that the league is “angling” to cancel what little remains of of the 2019-20 NBA season. In the meantime, Tatum is waiting like the rest of us, hoping for a haircut in the very near future.