Jayson Tatum got 'chills' hearing MVP chants amid historic night originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
BOSTON -- With royalty in the building, Jayson Tatum made a strong case to wear his own crown Wednesday night.
The Celtics superstar poured in a season-high 49 points against the Miami Heat at TD Garden, hitting 8 of 12 3-pointers and shooting 60 percent from the floor (15 of 25) to power a 134-121 victory with the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Catherine, sitting courtside.
Tatum's final points of the night came on free throws after a Bam Adebayo technical foul, and as he stepped to the line, the Garden crowd showered him with MVP chants.
This isn't the first time Tatum has heard MVP chants, but this might be the most he's deserved such praise. The 24-year-old is a legitimate NBA MVP candidate who's averaging 31.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on the best team in basketball.
"That means everything," Tatum told NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin about hearing MVP chants during the game. "That's something I've dreamed about as a kid, and to hear it in front of our home crowd from the best fans in the world, it holds a special place in my heart.
"I love this place, I love being here, and hearing that during the game gives you chills."
Tatum has taken huge strides over the past two seasons to vault from a talented-but-raw scorer to a two-way superstar who can dominate the game on both ends. The NBA community has noticed, as the 24-year-old is firmly entrenched as a top-three MVP candidate at sportsbooks alongside Dallas' Luka Doncic and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If you ask his teammates, Tatum deserves to lead that trio.
"Undoubtedly he should be leading the MVP race right now," Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon said after Wednesday's win. "He's playing at a superstar level."
Tatum became the first player in NBA history Wednesday night to record multiple games of 45-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and eight-plus 3-pointers.
If he keeps playing like this and the Celtics keep winning -- they're an NBA-best 18-4 after Wednesday night -- it will be hard to disagree with Brogdon.