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Jayson Tatum enjoyed silencing critics after Celtics’ NBA success

Tatum's worth to the Celtics was demonstrated in a record-breaking contract

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum felt a sense of vindication after helping the Boston Celtics to the NBA Championship.

The 26-year-old played a key role as the Celtics claimed their 18th NBA crown with a 4-1 finals win over the Dallas Mavericks to move past the Los Angeles Lakers as the most successful franchise in the sport’s history.

And having also agreed a new five-year deal reported to be worth $314million – the largest contract in NBA history – Tatum believes he can now answer the few doubters that still remain.

Speaking at the Team USA pre-Olympics training camp, he said: “Just being the topic of discussion of so many debates or whatever it is … ‘Can he lead a team? Is he a top-five player?’

“There’s still a lot of things I guess they can debate. But now I’ve done something that they can’t debate: I’ve won a championship. Having that under my belt, like obviously it’s still conversations to be had or whatever people want to say, but they always got to refer to me as an NBA champion.”

Tatum is also pleased to have the backing of the Celtics – a point demonstrated by their willingness to agree a mammoth new deal.

He added: “I’m very just thankful and grateful.

”It’s not about the money. I’ve been fortunate enough to make enough, more than I ever thought I would ever have and to take care of my family. So for me, just to feel wanted, that they wanted me to be, wanted me for the long haul, for my whole career.

“I’ve got nothing but love for the city, the fans and everybody in the organization, and we just won a championship, and I want try to win as many as I can.”

Boston will head into the new season as favorites to go back to back given they have retained almost all their championship-winning roster.

And Tatum revealed coach Joe Mazzulla is already plotting how his team can improve.

“Joe is already trying to draw up s— for next season,” Tatum said. “And I was like, ‘Joe, f— that. We just won a championship. Enjoy it. Relax.’

“Like, I’m not worried about any sets that he’s trying to put in right now. We had a laugh about it, because he’s just so driven, which we all are, but it’s like, man, we worked so hard for this. So we got to enjoy it.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.