Gregg Popovich: Jayson Tatum ‘Could Be Like Kawhi and Paul George’

by January 30, 2020

Jayson Tatum could one day be like Kawhi Leonard and Clippers teammate Paul George, according to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

Prior to the compliment, however, Pop playfully trashed Tatum’s poor defense in front of his USA Basketball teammates last summer.

The 21-year-old took those words to heart, working harder than ever to become a two-way force, and earned his first NBA All-Star selection.


“I wish I could be you!” boomed USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich, striding toward the young Boston Celtics forward in a film room in China. “Then I could stand in the corner with my 7-foot-long arms down by my side and not move while players go past me!”

He motioned for Tatum to take a seat on a bench next to the elevator, slung his arm around the 21-year old, and explained why he singled him out.

“Do you know how special you can be?” Popovich asked. “There are very few two-way players in our game, and you have the opportunity to be one of them. You could be like Kawhi [Leonard] and Paul George.”

Tatum was so surprised he didn’t answer at first, prompting Popovich to hastily add, “I hope I haven’t offended you.”

“Offended me?” Tatum said. “That’s a compliment!”

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