In spite of being one of the most iconic rivals ever in Boston sports history, Magic Johnson doesn’t let his time playing for the Los Angeles Lakers cloud his judgment when it comes to assessing players on the Boston Celtics. Anyone who follows Magic on Twitter knows that he’ll speak his mind on current NBA topics, and when he does, he usually is pretty upbeat. That’s what makes his most recent shout-out to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown so special.
Not too long after the Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round series, Johnson praised several of Boston’s players for their efforts, most namely Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Johnson’s tweets are almost always to the point and don’t say anything too earth-shattering, and this right here is more of the same. However, what is particularly noteworthy this time is knowing that Johnson was one of the Lakers’ executives during the 2017 NBA Draft, where LA took Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick over Tatum.
Hindsight is 20/20, but at times like these, it can’t hurt to wonder where both franchises would be right now if the Lakers had taken Tatum instead. Needless to say, it goes without saying that the Celtics are more than grateful that their longtime rival passed on Tatum.
Magic Also Praised Boston’s Team Efforts to Beat Brooklyn
Again, Magic Johnson’s tweets are usually nothing spectacular to write home about, but there was something he brought up following the Celtics’ victory over the Nets that should definitely catch a fan’s eye.
Magic attributed Boston’s Game 3 victory to their team identity outweighing the identity of Brooklyn’s two stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Not only has this been the case as Magic points out, but it also serves as a reminder of the two biggest factors coming into this series. In spite of the Celtics playing their best team basketball as the regular season was winding down, hardly anyone believed this was going to be an easy series for them primarily because of the magnitude that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving bring as a duo to the basketball court.
And in all honesty, in spite of the Celtics being ahead 3-0 in this series, getting there has been anything but easy for them. They’ve only scored 14 more points total than the Nets have all series long. It’s worth mentioning that in one game they blew a double-digit lead while having to come back from a double-digit deficit in another. Being up 3-0, especially in this particular case, is impressive, but Brooklyn has not made it easy for them in the slightest.
The Nets have thrown some good punches at the Celtics, but, as Magic points out, Boston’s greatness as a team has put Brooklyn away when they needed to despite the Nets having two of the most talented scorers in the league playing side-by-side.
Stan Van Gundy Responded to Magic’s Tweet about Greatness
As valuable as it is to have “team greatness” as Magic alludes to, teams can’t win as much as they do without having particular players stand out. In Boston’s case, that starts with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Those two don’t have the reputations as players that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving do – yet – but even at their young age, they’ve shown as individual players that they have the talent to go toe-to-toe with anyone.
Former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy did not reference those two directly when he responded to Magic’s tweet about Boston’s team greatness, but he made it a point that the Celtics couldn’t have gone as far as they have without having individually great players to lead them there.
This further highlights the difference between Boston and Brooklyn. When the playoff seedings were forming, it seemed some teams were purposely avoiding the Nets. That however was because of the individual greatness of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As scary as those two are, there was a reason why they ended up having to fight for the seventh seed.
The Celtics by contrast have the individual greatness of Tatum and Brown, which, combined with the rest of the team’s contributions, is why Boston came into this postseason as the second seed. Because Boston has both team and individual greatness as Van Gundy points out, and Brooklyn only has the latter, Boston is currently one game away from ending the Nets’ season.