However, the former Cleveland Cavaliers big man feels that his experience from playing on the 2016 team that won the NBA title will help him take Boston to a higher level.
“LeBron [James] texted us and said if you don’t think we have a chance to win Game 5 [of the Finals] or this series, then don’t come on the plane,” Thompson said while meeting the Boston media for the first time Thursday. “As a young guy, to hear your leader say that and believe that much in this ballclub, it says a lot. It gave the guys who weren’t sure faith and hope. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of that, so for me to be able to share my wisdom from what I learned from Bron and pass on to these guys is what the NBA is about.”
For the last few years, the Celtics have been a very good team. With young stars such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston has appeared in three of the last four Eastern Conference Finals.
However, many feel that the Celtics have lacked the maturity or resourcefulness to reach the championship series, a place the franchise hasn’t been to in a decade.
Thompson, who is entering his 10th NBA season, is also confident that his veteran status will help Tatum become a fully fledged superstar.
“Never be afraid to speak up. If you see something that’s not right, you have earned the right with this ballclub to speak up and say your mind,” Thompson said. “If you are the guy that punches the clock and does the right things everyday, you’ve earned the right to light a fire under your teammates’ ass or call them out because we all expect the best from each other. I want Jayson to be the best Jayson he can be and he should want me to be the best Tristan I can be. That’s what real brotherhood and leadership is about and that’s how you take your game to the next level. Playing with LeBron, he’ll call us out and want us to be better and we will hold him accountable the same way. Once you are able to do that and your teammates respect that, that’s when your game goes to a whole different level.”
Last season, the Celtics had to get by with 6-foot-8 Daniel Theis starting at center. It hurt them in the conference finals against Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo.
Thompson offers the Celtics a bigger body at 6-foot-9 and 254 pounds, and he’ll give his new team the type of physicality that can make it a legit championship contender.