The Boston Celtics have always been in the mix of championship contention since the pair of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum was formed. Before last season, the perception was that the duo couldn’t co-exist enough to bring the prestigious franchise to the NBA Finals, losing their first two Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 2018 and 2020.
However, Boston’s All-Star duo changed that narrative and blossomed into the mature stars that Celtics fans had been hoping for since 2010 when they beat the Miami Heat to advance to the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
A credit to their dynamic run was the message shared by former teammate Kemba Walker, who spent time with the team from 2019-2021. During an appearance on NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast, Walker talked about the importance of the duo playing team basketball in order to reach new heights.
“They’ve always seen the talks and people saying they can’t play together. But I always just tried to tell them, ‘Just block that out,’” said Walker. “I always told them, ‘This organization ain’t going nowhere without you two. Literally.’
The two frankly needed each to go on the journey they did last season. In the games Brown missed, the team went 8-8; without Tatum, the Celtics had a record of 2-4.
Of course, the stud defensive unit of Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams may have contributed to a portion of those victories, but the team certainly doesn’t match the post-season threats of a Brooklyn Nets or Milwaukee Bucks without the star power and intangibles of Tatum and Brown.
“My main thing to those guys was that they had to love each other,” said Walker. “Those two guys, Jayson and Jaylen — you two guys have to come together as much as you can and lead this team to the promised land. They can’t go anywhere without those two guys. Those two guys are so special, and they’ve shown it.”
The chemistry they’ve developed has grown into this season, as the Celtics currently have an 8-3 record, tying the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second-best in the conference.
The road towards another shot at a championship remains long for the Celtic. If Tatum and Brown still look to win the ultimate prize, they must still consider the leadership-quality messages of Walker.