At 4:19 p.m. on Sunday, Jayson Tatum sent a text. He knew he wouldn’t get a response.
“I got you today,” he wrote in the message to the late Kobe Bryant.
Tatum shared a screenshot of the text in a celebratory Instagram post early Monday morning, hours after he and the Boston Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals berth following winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on the road against the Miami Heat.
Playing with a purple and yellow No. 24 arm band, Tatum scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Tatum, who won the inaugural Larry Bird Trophy as the MVP of the series, said he watched Bryant highlights before Game 7.
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“That was my idol. That was my inspiration. That was my favorite player. The shoes I wore, been wearing the last couple games were dedicated to him.
“This (was) the biggest game of my career thus far, and I wanted to wear that armband to honor him and kind of share that moment in a way.”
Bryant and eight others, including his daughter Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
The Celtics will face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday.
Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt