Celtics

This Moment Confirmed That Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Are in It Together

Tomase: This moment proved beyond doubt that Tatum, Brown are in it together originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can tell the world they're great partners and best friends and mutual Secret Santas every hour of every day, but words do not convince like actions.

So let us roll tape to the fourth quarter of Wednesday's Eastern Conference Finals Game 5, with the Celtics blitzing the Miami Heat into oblivion. Already up 20, the Celtics seek the dagger. Tatum draws a double-team on the left wing and Brown finds himself open on the other side of the court, about 28 feet from the basket, with his foot beside the F of the FTX Arena logo.

Tatum swings it and Brown steps into a long heat-check 3-pointer. "Bang!" as Mike Breen might say, but what happens next speaks volumes to the only relationship between the two stars that should matter.

As the Celtics bench erupts at the 83-60 lead, Tatum leans back, spreads his arms wide, and exults. Part triumph and part relief, the pose is all support for his partner in this improbable run that's now just a game away from the NBA Finals.

"Do they like each other?" we asked way too often over the last couple of years, as if hoping the answer was no so we could justify splitting them up in a move that would've defined short-sighted.

It's irrelevant. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale were never particularly close, and that didn't stop them from winning three championships. Better questions: Do they support each other? Do they play off each other? Do they recognize that their partnership is the key to raising an 18th banner?

That one moment on Wednesday in a blowout -- Tatum realizing that he can't do it on his own, Brown being in the perfect position to bail him out of trouble, Tatum's genuine celebration -- told us all we need to know.

These two are in it together. And it's possible that not even Steph Curry and the mighty Golden State Warriors will be able to stop them.

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"We've just got to come out and play basketball," Brown said. "We feel like there's not a lot of people who can play basketball with us two. When he gets going, when I get going, we know that we're going to put ourselves in a good spot to win."

And that's really all that matters. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won six titles together in Chicago and don't even speak to each other today. Pippen told Vanity Fair that the two never really developed an off-court bond, but "our relationship between the lines was impeccable."

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant eventually reconciled, but their feud over nine years and three titles together in Los Angeles was so intense, it merits its own 7,000-word Wikipedia page. It's where you can be reminded that after the Celtics beat Kobe's Lakers in the 2008 Finals, Shaq rapped that his former teammate should "tell me how my ass tastes." They sound like the best of friends!Closer to home, the next time Rajon Rondo hears Ray Allen's name without spitting will be the first.

Celtics Talk: Too early to start thinking about Finals? Celtics one win away after Game 5 win over Heat | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

By those comparisons, Tatum and Brown might as well be Affleck and Damon or Romy and Michelle or freaking Lewis and Clark. No one has ever suggested they can't stand the sight of each other.

There's never been a hint of jealousy that Tatum is a First-Team All-NBA player and Brown is "only" an All-Star by comparison. You don't hear family members bad-mouthing either one in the way that some Celtics supposedly came to resent, say, Gordon Hayward's favored-nation status with then-coach Brad Stevens.

What you see are two stars -- one of them a legit superstar -- coalescing into an unstoppable force. Brown is 25 and signed through 2024. Tatum is 24 and will remain in Boston through at least 2025.

They have each other's backs and revel in each other's success. Tatum illustrated that in one revealing moment Wednesday.

John Tomase on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown

They are on the verge of becoming the NBA's next power duo. Their presence alone will attract veteran talent to Boston in search of a ring. They have each other's backs and revel in each other's success. Tatum illustrated that in one revealing moment Wednesday.

So let this put an end to the question of how well they get along. It simply does not matter. They're making magic in Celtics green, and the only time we should care about seeing them together off the court is hoisting a trophy together at the parade.

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