The smooth Tatum was dubbed “the black Jerry West” by Coach Al Maguire while at Marquette. Drafted by the Lakers in 1976, he made an immediate impact, especially in the playoffs, where he was the team’s third leading scorer.
The Lakers lost in the conference final to eventual NBA champion Portland but it seemed Tatum’s career was just taking off, especially when he started the 1977-78 season averaging 14 points per game. But he was traded that season, along with James Edwards, to the Indiana Pacers for Adrian Dantley and Dave Robisch.
Tatum continued to score, averaging 14 per game for Indiana, but suffered a knee injury in 1978 that limited his playing time for the rest of his career. He retired in 1980.