Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) goes to the basket over Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

LeBron James Remembers Shooting Hoops With 8-Year-Old Jayson Tatum

Before the Celtics took a 3-2 lead in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the 4-time MVP recalled an early meeting with Tatum.

May 24, 2018 - 7:59 am

BOSTON (KMOX/AP) - LeBron James was just 21-years-old, not yet an NBA MVP or world champion, the first time he shared a court with St. Louis' Jayson Tatum. That was during the 2005-06 season when Tatum was 8-years-old and was able to join a Cleveland Cavaliers shoot around. 

The now 33-year-old, four-time MVP told a reporter he remembed that first meeting and continues to be impressed by what the now 20-year-old Tatum is doing in these playoffs. 

"His composure, he plays above his age," James says. "I believe the unfortunate injuries they've had have allowed him to get better... His talent, his composure, where he comes from has allowed him to be successful. 

"He's a very, very, very good player already and he's definitely at this pace is going to become a great player."

Related story: LeBron James Still Denies To Follow Jayson Tatum On Twitter

Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals. As the Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.

"I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That's when I have the most fun," said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's rookie record of 10 in a postseason. 

Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA's All-Rookie team.

James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.

"I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be," he said. "I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win."

AP Sports Writer JIMMY GOLEN contributed to this article