Jayson Tatum honors his 'idol' Kobe Bryant with armband during Game 7

·2-min read

Jayson Tatum won the first-ever Larry Bird Trophy on Sunday night, following the Boston Celtics' Game 7 win over the Miami Heat. Tatum was given the trophy as Eastern Conference Finals MVP, and while it was fitting that he won a trophy named for a Celtics legend, Tatum also paid tribute to another player during Game 7: his personal "idol" and "inspiration," Kobe Bryant.

Kobe isn't the most popular player with Celtics fans — the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers were the last team the Celtics faced in the NBA Finals, a series they lost — but that didn't stop Tatum from wearing a purple armband with Bryant's No. 24 stitched in gold during Game 7.

Tatum has been greatly inspired by Kobe — he even wore Bryant's Lakers uniform during the NBA's 75th anniversary celebration — and explained after the game why he chose to wear the armband.

“Game 7. Everyone knows how much [Bryant] means to me. He’s my idol and my favorite player. Just to have something to show him in the biggest game of my career so far, and it worked out.”

Tatum also watched film of Bryant before the game.

Tatum did one more thing before Game 7, something to connect with Kobe in tangible yet spiritual way: he sent a text to Kobe's old cellphone number. The message? "I got you today."

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 29: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates with his teammatesafter being awarded the Eastern Conference Larry Bird MVP trophy after defeating the Miami Heat with a score of 100 to 96 in Game Seven to win the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 29, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum wore a Kobe Bryant armband during the Celtics' Game 7 win over the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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