Jayson Tatum on his ambition for getting into the NBA: “It’s like I was 50 Cent. I’m going to get to the league or die trying — and I live by that.”

The odds of becoming a professional athlete, even among the top athletes coming out of high school or college are extremely slim. That’s why if you ask anyone knowledgeable on the matter, one of the most common pieces of accompanying wisdom will be “you need to have a backup plan.” Which is good advice — for anyone not named Kobe Bryant or Jayson Tatum, of course.

Tatum, now in his seventh year with the Boston Celtics, related how Kobe Bryant’s advice stuck with him with regards to his ambition for getting into the NBA in a recent episode of the “Point Forward” podcast with NBPA chief Andre Iguodala and former Boston forward and assistant coach Evan Turner.

“Growing up, I remember Kobe spoke at a camp one time. He asked the kids what do they want to be when they grow up, and what is their second option,” Tatum said.

Tatum explained that the question, however reasonable it might have been, was taken more like an insult or indignity by Kobe.

Jayson Tatum/YouTube

“He kind of looked at them funny and was like, ‘Man, I never had a plan b. People always told me to disperse my eggs into different baskets … why would I not give all my time, energy, and effort to the thing I’m trying to accomplish?’ That resonated so much — that was my favorite player. That’s what I wanted to be like,” Tatum explained. “So in my mind, there never was a Plan B.”

“It’s like I was 50 Cent: get rich or die trying,” Tatum continued. “I’m going to get to the league or die trying — and I live by that.”

As we all know, Tatum made good on his promise of getting into the NBA. And as Boston Celtics fans, we’re glad he did. In his seven years with the Celtics, Tatum has averaged 22.7 points per game on 46.0% shooting, along with 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals. He’s a four-time NBA All-Star and was named the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Most Valuable Player in 2022, helping the Celtics reach the finals that same year as well. He holds the record for most points scored in an NBA All-Star game (55) and the most points scored in Game 7 of any NBA playoffs series, with 51.

What do you think of the do or die mentality Jayson Tatum had for getting into the NBA? Do you think that has attributed to his success in the NBA as well? Let us know in the comments.

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