Jayson Tatum and Matthew Tkachuk once shared a high school gym class, and now the Boston Celtics and Florida Panthers stars are sharing the national spotlight.
Decade-old footage of the St. Louis natives surfaced on TNT’s broadcast of Game 6 of the Celtics’ Eastern Conference Finals series with the Miami Heat, showing a teenage Tatum alongside Tkachuk, his Chaminade College Preparatory School classmate.
After scoring three game winners as Florida swept the Carolina Hurricanes to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, Tkachuk was in Miami on Saturday to see Tatum’s Celtics force a Game 7 in their ongoing playoff series with the Heat.
It was there that the TNT broadcast crew presented Tkachuk with old footage of he and Tatum in a roughly decade-old video, in which the budding basketball star lists the ‘Reasons why I came to Chaminade.’
At one point, the young Tatum specifically mentions the fans, including one ‘Matthew Tkachuk,’ whom he described as a ‘great guy.’
Jayson Tatum (left) is seen in a decade-old video talking about Matthew Tkachuk (right)
The pride of St. Louis: The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (left) and Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk (right)
Behaving every bit like the young teenager that he was at the time, Tkachuk is seen drawing attention to himself by swerving his shoulders side to side in the background of the clip.
‘Pretty smooth,’ the 25-year-old Tkachuk laughed to TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson. ‘That clip comes up probably a few times a year, whenever me and him are doing well, or whatever. It’s crazy that we were in the same gym class all those years and it’s cool that we’re both representing Chaminade.’
Curiously, Tatum is seen wearing a Kansas Basketball sweatshirt in the video, which is somewhat ironic seeing as he would later enroll at a rival basketball power, Duke.
Tkachuk and his brother Brady both left Chaminade to attend the U.S. National Team Development Program in Michigan, although the family is still connected to the area through their father, St. Louis Blues legend Keith Tkachuk.
‘It’s just cool seeing a guy succeed at another sport and seeing what he went through, every morning at 6am shooting hoops and getting ready,’ Tkachuk told the Calgary Sun in 2018. ‘Our mentalities when we were younger, we both knew what we wanted to do and had that as a goal. We both weren’t going to be stopped and both put in a lot of work.’
Tkachuk (center) scored three game-winning goals in the four-game sweep of Carolina
Matthew Tkachuk (far left, near right) is the son of Keith, a legendary St. Louis Blues star
Tkachuk celebrates with teammates after clinching the series with a game-winning goal
They even played some floor hockey, although Tatum was admittedly overmatched.
‘He’d challenge me and play goalie and I’d be like ‘I don’t know if you want to do that,’ Tkachuk said.
‘In basketball, I’d be like ‘let’s play one-on-one it can’t be that hard’ and he’d be like ‘I don’t know if you want to do that.’
‘It definitely wasn’t smart of me to challenge him at basketball, that’s for sure.’
As for Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, Tkachuk admittedly has divided loyalties.
As a professional athlete representing South Florida (the Panthers play in nearby Sunrise), Tkachuk wants to support Jimmy Butler and the Heat.
‘I think the best answer so I have people in St. Louis still on my side — I’m rooting for my two favorite players, Jimmy Butler and Tatum,’ Tkachuk said before Game 6. ‘I hope they both go off … but for the whole Florida vibe, I hope this building is electric all night.’
Celtics guard Derrick White (9) celebrates with forward Jayson Tatum after the Game 6 win
Boston is on the cusp of a historic comeback against Miami. No team in NBA history has ever won a playoff series after trailing 3-0, but the Celtics forced Game 7 on Saturday with Derrick White’s buzzer-beating tip-in.
Equally shocking has been the Panthers’ success.
The eighth seed in the Eastern Conference came back from 3-1 deficit to upset a historically good Boston Bruins team before stunning the Toronto Maple Leafs and Hurricanes to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Florida currently awaits the winner of the ongoing Western Conference Finals, which the Vegas Golden Knights lead 3-2 over the Dallas Stars.