Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

What if Jayson Tatum never gets better after battling COVID-19?

Jayson Tatum isn’t 100 percent weeks after recovering from COVID-19.
Jayson Tatum isn’t 100 percent weeks after recovering from COVID-19.
Image: Getty Images

It’s not what the NBA wants you to think about. And Jayson Tatum probably doesn’t want to think about it much either. It’s not how athletes at his level process things. But Tatum was honest Tuesday when he talked about being short of breath during games more than a month after testing positive for COVID-19. That he doesn’t have the same energy he did before at times.

Here’s what he said according to ESPN.com:

“I think it messes with your breathing a little bit,” Tatum said after the team’s shootaround Tuesday afternoon ahead of hosting the Denver Nuggets. “I have experienced some games where, I don’t want to say [I was] struggling to breathe, but, you know, you get fatigued a lot quicker than normal.

“Just running up and down the court a few times, it’s easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster. I’ve noticed that since I’ve had COVID. It’s just something I’m working on.

“It’s gotten better since the first game I played, but I still deal with it from time to time.”

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That doesn’t mean Tatum isn’t effective, because he most certainly is.

Even just last night he went for 21 in a big 112-99 win over the Nuggets. But Tatum’s stats are down since his return. It could just be temporary, but the scary thing is we don’t know. We know that COVID-19 can scar the lungs long term.

Tatum could recover in time, likely will. But then … he might not? No one can be totally sure that he’ll be clear of the effects come next month or next year. It’s mostly a hope. It feels like he should, given that he has to be one of the fittest people around to be in the NBA. But the virus itself wouldn’t have cared much about that.

Even if it just remains a slight shortness of breath,Tatum could and likely will go on to have a great career. Maybe even a Hall of Fame one. He has been one of the biggest stars in the league the last couple years, and still with one of the highest ceilings around. He has every chance at being one of the best Celtics ever, which is not an easy thing to do.

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But the thought at the back of everyone’s mind has to be, what if he’s never quite the same? What if he never regains that burst that separates him from 98 percent of the league? Sure, he’ll still be an upper-echelon player, which will make him very rich, very famous, and still could lead the Celtics to glory at some point. He’ll hardly suffer.

But we don’t know if that’s all it will be. And if Tatum’s career is curtailed in any way, that would be a waste. Will he think playing this season is worth it if he doesn’t live up to the goals in his head simply because his lungs are scarred from a virus he didn’t have to get? If he can’t be the guy the Cs turn to at the end of playoff games because he can’t quite grab just enough oxygen? If it’s worse than that and his life is affected from there on out? Or if his career is cut short?

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We still don’t know how many that will happen to. The fear is that the number will be much higher than we’re considering now. Just because Tatum has been the most honest about it doesn’t mean he’s the only one. When we find out, we’ll probably feel pretty differently about this season. But no league ever worries about the consequences later when there’s money to be had now.


Let’s flip to the other side of the sports spectrum. Whoever let the Vegas Golden Knights think these gold helmets were a good idea needs to be beaten with an alligator right quick. Look at these fucking things:

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They look like if the movies Gladiator and Tron crashed into each other on the interstate. There is simply no one on the planet who has said, “You know what we need? More Notre Dame.” Not even the Fighting Irish and their most fervent fans think there needs to be more of it. We don’t even need the Notre Dame we currently have.

Thankfully, the Knights lost 3-2 in the last minute of regulation to the Avalanche. Which is exactly what they deserve for skating around in these light bulbs. The Chili Peppers tried this at Woodstock, assholes. Look what they became.

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Let’s end it with LeBron pulling up from the logo… and air-balling. And Portland’s C.J. McCollum having a hearty laugh over it.

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We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.

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