Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum revealed in an interview on Sunday that he played through a fractured wrist during the 2022 NBA playoffs. Tatum did not miss any games in the playoffs as he led the Celtics to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010, where they ultimately lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Speaking to Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, Tatum explained that he initially suffered the injury in a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Super Bowl Sunday. He was initially supposed to get his wrist examined during the All-Star break, but decided to play through the pain because he didn’t want to miss games.
Finally, prior to the playoffs he agreed to get imaging done which revealed a non-displaced fracture. While the bone had healed over to some extent in the time between the initial injury and the playoffs, it was still painful enough to require a cortisone shot during the second round of the playoffs.
Tatum’s comments in full:
Whenever the Super Bowl was [February 13] we played the Hawks at home and I remember driving back to the house and I had my watch on and in the car I kept looking at my wrist because it was like something was weighing on it. Long story short, my wrist was really, really bothering me. I had a pad on it and I started taping my wrist. My trainer Nick, we had talked about getting it looked at before the All-Star break. But as All-Star break approached I got nervous to get it looked at because I knew how much pain I was in. I couldn’t really push my wrist back, at home I couldn’t really hold a plate or a cup. So after each game I was wearing a brace to keep it stable, I had to sleep in it.
But I was nervous to get it checked out, because I never want somebody to tell me I can’t play. If anybody knows me, my teammates, I never want to miss a game. I’ve tried to play every game of every season. I hate coming out, I hate getting subbed out, I hate missing games. I pushed it to the side and didn’t get it checked out before All-Star break. Fast forward to right before the playoffs, we had six or seven days off and Nick was like ‘we gotta get it looked at.’ I’m like, ‘alright, that’s cool, but it’s the playoffs. I don’t care what they say, I’m playing.’
Come to find out, this was eight weeks later, it showed that I had a non-displaced fracture in my wrist. It was small but a non-displaced chip. So I chipped a bone but it didn’t leave the surface. It showed that the bone had grown over it, so it healed, but I was still in pain because I kept getting hit or falling on it. So I guess I played with somewhat of a fracture for two months.
Then in the playoffs there was a play against Milwaukee in Game 3. I dunked it, Giannis chased me down and he fouled me. I fell into the crowd and that was the most painful it’s been since that day that I hurt it. I ended up getting a cortisone shot in my wrist that night, and you can see it. I’ve lost color in my hand because it kills the fat cells and there’s not a lot of fat in my hand so I’ve lost color right there.
After each game I would have to wear a brace to shootaround and I would take it off before the cameras saw me, and pre-game taking my nap I would put it back on just to make sure it was stable. Yeah, [no one knew] besides the team. But in my mind if I’m going out there to play, it’s like nothing matters.
Tatum had previously acknowledged the wrist injury, telling reporters during the second round against the Bucks, “That’s something I’ve been dealing with for probably like two months now. It wasn’t anything abnormal. When I fall on it, it bothers me.”
The extent was unknown, though, and no one outside the organization was aware he was playing through a fracture. In fact, his shoulder received more attention during the playoffs after he suffered a stinger during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat. Tatum said he wouldn’t need any offseason procedure on his shoulder and did not blame it for his inconsistent performances at times during the postseason.
But while Tatum may not use the injuries as an excuse, a fractured wrist and sore shoulder would help explain why his shooting and ball handling were all over the place at times. In any case, Tatum should be 100 percent heading into next season and the Celtics will once again be among the favorites to win the East.