Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum will wear No. 10 at this summer's Tokyo Olympics, the same number that Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant wore for Team USA.
Bryant was Tatum's favorite player growing up and eventually became a mentor for the budding superstar before his death last year. With the 2021 Games being the first since Bryant's passing, Tatum feels honored to wear No. 10.
"With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, it holds that much more value," Tatum said, according to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "It's not something I take lightly."
He added: "It's a tremendous honor. And I'll wear it proudly."
Tatum previously wore No. 10 for USA Basketball on several occasions, including the FIBA Americas U-16 championships and the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The number now has a different meaning for the All-Star, who believes it's important to honor Bryant's legacy.
Tatum knew Bryant very well. They worked out together, and Bryant frequently offered him advice, which could be part of the reason why the young Celtics star is so good today. The 23-year-old shared a specific piece of advice Bryant gave him while speaking with reporters Wednesday:
"I remember one talk, it might have been after a game, and he was saying that a lot of people won't understand what you do," Tatum said. "He said, 'What I mean by that is, the ones that really want to be great and really want to be special really take that whatever-it-takes mentality.' He told me it takes sacrifice, because the ultimate question is about how much are you willing to give up to be great."
Bryant won gold medals with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Tatum is now hoping to honor Bryant's legacy by donning No. 10 and leading the Americans to their fourth straight gold medal at his first Olympic tournament.
As The Associated Press notes, No. 10 is one of the best numbers in sports as some of the greatest athletes in the world have worn it, including Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Landon Donovan, Carli Lloyd, Eli Manning, Dennis Rodman and Steve Nash, among others.