Lighting it up among the stars: Why Jayson Tatum’s All-Star MVP means a whole lot more than you may think

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum's 2023 NBA All-Star Game MVP for Team Giannis means a whole lot more than many may think (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum's 2023 NBA All-Star Game MVP for Team Giannis means a whole lot more than many may think (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

At the end of the day, the NBA All-Star Game does not matter at all. Jaylen Brown among others said it was not even basketball. It is hard to make any sort of counterargument to that. It was time for Jayson Tatum to demonstrate why he is now the best scorer in the NBA. It was a mission for the former Duke forward. The resistance was not quite there, but the Boston Celtics star pulled out all his tricks on the offensive end. Tatum became just the third player in the history of the NBA to score over 50 in an All-Star Game, joining Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry.

Kobe Bryant was the player Tatum admired as he developed a love for the game of basketball. It was only fitting that the 24-year-old earned an award with Kobe’s name etched on the silverware itself. An All-Star Game is the time for an individual to show just how elite of a one-on-one scorer he is. Kobe was one of the best, and in front of a nationally televised audience, the league had a chance to really digest why Tatum should be the leader in the MVP discussion.

The eyes were off of the potential frontrunner, Nikola Jokic who scored just four points. It was time for Tatum to win over some voters who will without question have this game in the back of their heads before submitting their ballot. Critics continue to bring up the lack of competitiveness in the NBA All-Star Game, and while this is true, winning the MVP has tended to bode well for the recipient.

While breaking the All-Star Game scoring record is another feather in Tatum’s cap, it signals the kind of silverware the Boston Celtics star could be holding in the coming years, and months.

Does winning the All-Star Game MVP actually matter? When looking at the past, it actually does. Many of the association’s best players choose to limit their time on the floor, but history tells us that could come back to bite them considering the success of the receivers of the past.

50 points is still 50 points. 10 3-pointers is 10 3-pointers no matter how you cut it. He became just the eighth Boston Celtics star to win the All-Star Game MVP, putting his name among Larry Bird, Bill Russell, and Dave Cowens among others. It is the second consecutive season that a player finished with 50 or more in the game. That 50-point scorer was a +5.8 in the NBA Finals, netting over 31 points in each Finals contest en route to clinching yet another title.

Three out of the eight Cs that earned the highest honor in the All-Star Game ended up hoisting the NBA Championship later on in the season. Two of those former Celtics superstars ended the season with both the regular season MVP award and the All-Star Game MVP. Larry Bird would win the 1982 All-Star Game MVP, and while he did not win the title or the regular season MVP that season, it led to success in his future years. Bird won the MVP the three years after he earned the All-Star Game MVP with two of those campaigns ending with an NBA championship.

In fact, four out of the last five MVPs have made it to the NBA Finals, including the last two who ended up leading their respective teams to the title. Those two players, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Stephen Curry won both the All-Star Game and the NBA Finals MVP in the same season. Bryant won the award four different times, and in two of those years, the Laker legend guided his team to become the kings of the NBA at the end of the campaign.

The Boston Celtics need this Jayson Tatum in the 2022-23 season’s second half

There was no doubt Tatum was feeling it offensively on Sunday night. Boston hopes he can take that sort of shooting stroke into the second half of the season which begins Thursday against the Pacers.

All-Star Game MVPs are those awards that many do not recognize among the regular accolades of a legend, but they often lead to much more significant ones in the future.

The future is bright for Tatum, and that may be obvious, but this weekend’s award shows some of the things that have been the 24-year-old’s goals since he was dreaming of playing basketball professionally are right around the corner.