Jayson Tatum ‘Feeling Better’ After Dealing With Covid Effects & ‘Excited’ For 2nd NBA All-Star Game

Jayson Tatum can't wait to play in his 2nd NBA All-Star game on March 7! In a new interview, the Celtics star discussed his health after dealing with post-coronavirus effects and Boston's mid-season struggles.

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Jayson Tatum is feeling better each day as he continues to deal with after-effects of COVID-19. The Boston Celtics star, 23, tested positive for coronavirus in early January, and was back on the court by January 25. Although he was cleared to play, after following the NBA’s safety and health protocols, Tatum admitted to struggling with breathing issues in mid-February — more than a month after he initially tested positive for the virus.

“I’m still getting over [COVID-19 after-effects], but I’m feeling better progressively each day, Tatum told HollywoodLife exclusively, while discussing his official ‘Chip Deal’ with Ruffles — the Official chip of the NBA. “[My breathing] has gotten better and better with each game and I’m feeling more comfortable.”

Throughout his recovery, Tatum has been consulting with the Celtics training staff and the team’s doctors. When he was preparing to return to the court in January, he underwent a series of various tests and confided in fellow athletes who tested positive for COVID-19. “I had to go through some tests before I could go back and even practice. But, I felt comfortable going back and playing” in January, he said, recalling, “I talked with some guys that had tested positive, different athletes from different leagues and kind of how they felt afterwards. A couple people told me that it took them a very long time to catch their breath, that they would have shortness of breath and they would get tired a lot quicker while they were playing,” Tatum explained. “So, I kind of expected all of that.”

Jayson Tatum celebrates his victory in the skills challenge during the NBA All-Star Saturday Night festivities at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, February 16, 2019. (Photo credit: MEGA)

On Sunday night, Tatum will play in his second consecutive NBA All-Star game in Atlanta, Georgia, where he will start for Team [KevinDurant — making it his first All-Star start. “I’m excited, but I’m not sure what to expect,” Tatum said in reference to how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic put a damper on this year’s All-Star weekend. “Obviously it’s going to look different this year, but it’s a great honor and I’m very very thankful. It’s not something I take for granted, being a part of the All-Star game two years in a row,” Tatum said, adding that it’s also a time to create and “enjoy memories” with his son 3-year-old son Deuce“Fatherhood is the best part of my life — that relationship I have with him, and seeing him grow and continue to develop is really really cool.” 

Tatum isn’t the only Celtic who’s traveling to Atlanta for the 2021 All-Star festivities. He’ll face off against his teammate, Jaylen Brown, who was named an All-Star reserve for Team [LeBron] James. The two are also set to first participate in the 3-Point Contest at 6:30 pm ET — before they play in the All-Star Game at 8 pm. Last year, Tatum became the second-youngest Celtics player selected to an All-Star Game.

While being named an All-Star is special in its own right, Tatum and Brown’s celebrations were somber. “I think with the state of the team, it was hard to be really excited, and it is a pretty big deal,” Tatum said, calling himself and Brown “two team-oriented guys” who “would much rather our team’s success overshadow our personal awards.”

It’s no secret that the Celtics struggled throughout February, having gone on a losing streak to teams that weren’t above .500, which resulted in the C’s falling below the .500 mark. A number of things have contributed to their current struggles including a shortened off-season, Kemba Walker‘s absence (knee injury), a defensive slump and identity issues. But, despite going through adversity to start 2021, Tatum is confident that Boston can turn things around.

“It’s been a very different season not going exactly how we want it right now, but we’re in good spirits. We care, we want to figure it out and I believe that we will,” he said. No matter how the season turns out for the Celtics, Tatum said wants to be viewed as “someone that’s a leader, someone that really cares about winning and lets his game do the talking for itself.”

Jayson Tatum at House of Jumpman in Paris on June 21, 2019. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

HollywoodLife caught up with Tatum after he launched the new signature chip, Ruffles Flamin’ Hot BBQ. “I love spicy food, anything I’m eating I like to add some kick to it. And, BBQ, I’m from St. Louis, so we’re known for our taste in BBQ — and I thought that was a pretty good combination,” he explained, adding, “It’s pretty cool seeing my face on a bag of Ruffles.”

Tatum is the second NBA All-Star to sign a ‘Chip Deal’ with Ruffles, following Anthony Davis’ inaugural signing last year for the launch of Ruffles Lime and Jalapeno. “I remember last year around All-Star when Anthony Davis was doing it and I thought that was really cool. I told myself, if that opportunity ever presented itself, I would gladly want to join and be a part of [Ruffles] and now we’re here,” he said. For me, I like doing things that are genuine and organic, and I’ve been eating Ruffles since I was a kid.”

The 70th annual NBA All-Star Game will air Sunday on TNT and ESPN Radio, live from State Farm Arena in Atlanta.