Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is setting himself up nicely for NBA stardom. With a current net worth of $5 million, the Duke alum is expected to earn $37.5 million with the Celtics over the next four years. At the start of the 2019-20 season, Tatum was playing well, coming off the high of signing his first shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand.
The 22-year-old had a chance to meet his idol, Michael Jordan, on an overseas trip to promote the new shoe line. Tatum explained in a recent podcast interview about his first encounter with the all-time basketball great. He revealed that it was more than a little awkward.
Jayson Tatum was at the top of his game
Before the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to the 2019-20 NBA season, Tatum was at the top of his game. He appeared in his first NBA All-Star Game and was dominating the scoreboards.
When the season came to a screeching halt, Tatum was shooting 39.8 percent from the 3-point range. He was averaging 23.6 points with 7.1 rebounds and 9 assists per game.
Tatum’s shoe deal
In 1997, reports The Undefeated, Michael Jordan hand-selected five young NBA players to become ambassadors for the Jordan Brand shoes. Now, 39 years later, MJ is still selecting superstar players to represent his line.
At the end of summer in 2019, MJ chose Zion Williamson, Asia Durr, Kia Nurse, Rui Hachimura, and Tatum as the season’s choice for wearing the new line of Air Jordan XXXIV player edition styles. Tatum signed a multi-year shoe deal with the Jordan Brand and created a line of shoes that match his personality.
He used his love for St. Louis, the Celtics, and more as his inspiration. Tatum’s love for great food is how the Taco Jay style evolved. He created bright yellow, orange, and green shoes with a taco logo that includes the iconic Nike swoosh. His family is also a big part of his motivation; on the inside of the tongue of each shoe is the name of his son, Deuce.
The Jordan Brand is currently worth more than $1 billion and has retained deals with some of the biggest names in the NBA. Tatum says becoming part of the Jordan family was “like a dream come true.”
He told The Encore, “Michael Jordan has the last say. So for him to give you that last stamp and to say he wants you to be part of the family is the ultimate sort of acceptance.”
NBA players can be awkward too
Tatum explained that members of the Jordan Brand family took a trip to Paris last summer. He said it was his introduction to the Jordan world and gave him a chance to meet all the guys. Tatum told Barnes this was the first chance he had to sit down and talk to MJ.
Tatum recalled going to dinner and being very nervous to meet Jordan. He said he had already met him earlier in the day, but his hands were still sweating when he walked over to the table to say hello. Tatum said when he got to the table, Jordan was sitting next to his wife, and Spike Lee was next to her.
When he extended his hand to MJ, he knocked over Jordan’s wine glass on the table, and it broke. Tatum offered to get a napkin, trying to help him out, and he said that Jordan replied, “No, fella, it’s cool, it’s good, you alright.” I turned around and was like, “yo, I’m tripping.”