Jayson Tatum may only be a year into his Boston Celtics career but franchise legend Paul Pierce has already declared that he can become one of the team's all-time great players.
The 20-year-old produced an impressive rookie campaign last season and has the talent to become a future superstar for the C's.
But this affiliation with Boston is all a little ironic for the youngster as he had an interesting opinion of them as a kid growing up.
Tatum has made no secret of his love for Kobe Bryant and how he was his favourite player.
In a recent appearance on The Bill Simmons podcast, he admitted that he hated the Celtics because of their rivalry with Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers.
"I used to hate Boston," Tatum revealed.
His love for the Black Mamba was so deep that he took a dislike towards any team that stood in his way of success.
The Lakers lost the 2008 NBA Finals to the Celts before gaining revenge in 2010.
"My favourite player was Kobe," Tatum said. "Even before then, like when I was like 4 or 5, I'd just always tell—my mom would ask me what I wanted to be when I got older.
"And I would just be like, 'I wanna be Kobe.' She’d be like, 'You wanna be in the NBA?' 'No, like, I wanna be Kobe.'
"He was just my favorite player. I had his posters, all his jerseys. That was my guy."
This may be difficult for some Celtics fans to hear but they have the ultimate respect for Kobe, as they showed with a classy ovation for the five-time champion in his final appearance at TD Garden two seasons ago.
It's also important to remember that the Black Mamba was the best player of that generation, so players of Tatum's age will have idolised him in their childhood.
Meeting your idol
The Duke product has come full circle as he spent time working out with Bryant this summer and recently described it as "a dream come true".
"I got a chance to just sit down and talk to him first. You know, I got to meet with him. And we talked about a lot of things, basketball-related, non-basketball-related," he told Simmons.
"I tried to get into his mind and see how he went about things. Just trying to get better each year, what he wanted to improve year after year so he didn't backtrack or be complacent.
"His will to just be the best and just striving to get better every year. That's one thing I found interesting."
If the small forward adopts the 'Mamba Mentality', it could be a scary prospect for his opponents.
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