Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum revealed this week that he continues to battle after-effects of COVID-19 more than one month after his initial positive test.
Tatum contracted the coronavirus in early January and missed five games before making his return on Jan. 25. Addressing the situation Tuesday after the Celtics’ shootaround, Tatum admitted to being left winded at times during games.
“Just running up and down the court a few times, it’s easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster,” Tatum said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. 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.”
The Celtics star has seen a minor drop in his productivity since his return (a 26.9-point average in 10 games before becoming ill and a 24.5-point average in 11 contests since his return) despite playing slightly increased minutes.
Tatum added Tuesday that he and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens have discussed his on-court endurance issue.
“It’s something that we’ve talked about,” Tatum said. “And it’s not like every game where I feel it the whole game. It’s just certain stretches where breathing is a little out of whack and I talk to the medical staff and coaching staff about it. It’s gotten better obviously from the first game I came back and played.”
The NBA of course elected to forge ahead with the 2020-21 season — albeit a shortened version — despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic across the country. Games have been getting postponed all season as COVID-19 outbreaks continue to plague teams across the league.
Further complicating matters, the NBA has made the controversial decision to hold All-Star Game festivities this season, after coming to an agreement with the NBPA, despite previously postponing the event. The announcement was met with extreme skepticism, even derision, by some of the league’s biggest stars, including Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who notably contracted coronavirus earlier in the year.
Given a great deal of uncertainty concerning the potential long-term effects of contracting COVID-19, it’s disconcerting at a minimum that Tatum still is experiencing lingering symptoms.
“I guess it’s just a long process. I’ve talked to other guys that have had it and they say they experienced the same thing and it kind of just gets better over time,” Tatum said. “But as much as we play, I guess it takes a little bit longer.”