Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have played fewer than 100 regular-season games in their NBA careers—combined. Brown, a second-year player out of Cal-Berkeley, turned 21 in late October, and Tatum, a rookie out of Duke, won’t even turn 20 till March. These guys are young. But the NBA Draft’s two most recent No. 3 picks stand as the future of the Celtics franchise. If Boston’s brain trust desires, they could each be wearing Celtics uniforms till the middle of next decade. And the similarities don’t stop there: Both players left college after one season to turn pro. Both are vying to be the face of the franchise. And each has superstar potential. On a recent trip to the Celtics practice facility, we armed them with a set of talking points and asked them to interview each other. The witty banter, sly grins and bouts of laughter showed that while they might be playing like grown men on the court, they’re still up for some youthful play when they’re off the clock.
Jaylen Brown: Did you make any big splurges with your first paycheck?
Jayson Tatum: Nah. I got a car.
Brown: Just one?
Tatum: Yeah, one. [Smiles.] I purchased one car. And I got an apartment and I got an apartment for my mom.
Brown: Do you miss college at all?
Tatum: I miss college a lot.
Brown: Me too. What’s the thing you miss most?
Tatum: The atmosphere. Just being on campus.
Brown: The parties? [Both laugh.]
Tatum: No, just walking outside your dorm room and seeing everybody on campus and at the bus stop. And the games in college. And the atmosphere overall.
Jayson Tatum (left), Jaylen Brown (right)
Brown: What was draft night like for you?
Tatum: Draft night was the day all my dreams came true. It was the best night of my life, just hearing your name called and having your dream come true.
Brown: That’s cute. Really cute. [Both laugh.]
Brown: Besides myself, who’s the best veteran mentor on the team?
Tatum: Hmm. It’s tough. We’ve got a great group of guys. Kyrie [Irving], Al Horford. Even Marcus Morris. I’d say those three are the top three veterans on the team. How many years have you played?
Brown: Only one more than you. [Both laugh.]
Brown: OK, we’re going to get to some fun stuff. How does that sound? … Last person you texted?
Brown: Me? That’s not true. [Both laugh.]
Tatum: You never text me back. That’s the problem in our relationship. You text me back about two-and-a-half hours later.
Brown: That’s not true. I texted you like 30 minutes ago.
Tatum: OK, I appreciate that.
Brown: Favorite movie?
Brown: Life. That’s a good movie, man.
Tatum: You know about Life?
Tatum: You know, you kinda look like Bernie Mac. [Both laugh.]
Brown: Who’s a better analyst, Charles Barkley or Jalen Rose?
Tatum: Charles Barkley.
Brown: Charles Barkley? You sure?
Tatum: OK, I’m just gonna let that one go.
Brown: No comment.
Brown: If you weren’t a pro basketball player, what career would you be in?
Tatum: I think I’d be a basketball coach or a trainer. Something that would keep me involved in basketball. Like, I’d probably be your trainer.
Brown: You’d be my trainer? My trainer?
Tatum: Yeah, your trainer.
Brown: I’d have to pay you?
Tatum: Or I’d have to live with you, like board and room is free.
Brown: In my house?
Tatum: Yeah, you got like six bedrooms.
Jayson Tatum: What did you think when I changed my number to zero and I broke up our 7/11 nickname?
Jaylen Brown: I was a little indifferent about it. At first, because I was zero in college, I thought that I should be able to be zero, but they said the 7 jersey was selling too much. And they came up with some B.S. story to let you get it because you’re a princess. [Laughs.] So I let you get zero. I was like, you know what, “He’s a good guy: Let him have it.”
Tatum: I’m a good guy?
Brown: You’re a good guy.
Tatum: I appreciate that.
Tatum: NBA player you admired the most growing up?
Brown: Kobe Bryant.
Tatum: That’s my answer. You can’t choose it.
Brown: I think we think alike.
Tatum: But I’ve heard you say Tracy McGrady before.
Brown: Kobe and T-Mac are my two.
Tatum: I always stay the same. I always say Kobe.
Brown: For me it was the both of them. I can’t have two players I admire?
Tatum: It’s favorite player. Singular.
Brown: I can’t choose between the two.
Tatum: You have to.
Brown: I have to? [Both laugh.] If I had to choose? Hmm, I couldn’t.
Tatum: But listen, you have to. It’s player.
Brown: OK, who’s your favorite, your mom or your dad? You have to choose.
Tatum: My mom. [Both laugh.]
Brown: OK, next question.
Tatum: Last book you read, smart guy, Cal-Berkeley guy?
Brown: Say it again.
Tatum: Last book you read?
Brown: Nah, say Cal-Berkeley guy again. [Smiles.] Last book I read was Pound the Stone by Joshua Medcalf.
Tatum: Was it good?
Brown: Good book. Hit the stone 99 times and nothing happens. Hit it the 100th time and it finally splits in half. Perseverance. Something you should try.
Tatum: Favorite college course? You went to class, right?
Brown: I did. I definitely went to class.
Tatum: How many years did you go to Cal?
Brown: Enough. I got into some graduate-level courses because they told me that regular classes weren’t enough.
Tatum: You went to a public school?
Brown: I went to a public school.
Tatum: Cal is a public school?
Brown: It’s the best public school in the United States.
Tatum: I just wanted to clarify that.
Brown: Are you comparing Duke to Cal? Because it’s not close.
Tatum: I wouldn’t dare compare Duke to Cal.
Brown: Just checking.
Tatum: Answer the question: Favorite college course?
Brown: That’s tough. Global Poverty in Practice.
Tatum: You’ve traveled the world, right?
Brown: No, no.
Tatum: Have you been outside the country on more than one occasion?
Tatum: If you could go one place in the world that you haven’t been, where would it be?
Brown: I just want to go. I’m curious.
Tatum: Curious about what?
Tatum: What’s everything?
Brown: I want to see the pyramids.
Tatum: Last question: Jaylen Brown, what’s your middle name?
Brown: No, not today. Don’t worry about my middle name. What’s your middle name?
Tatum: I’m interviewing you, sir. It says, “What is your middle name?”
Brown: That’s what it says?
Tatum: Yeah. Who cares? What’s your middle name?
Brown: I’m not saying.
Tatum: What’s it start with?
Tatum: Are you going to say it?
Brown: No, but if you guess it, I’ll give it to you.
Tatum: How many letters?
Brown: A lot.
Tatum: Is it a girl’s name?
Tatum: Is it a common name?
Brown: I was named after someone.
Tatum: Someone famous?
Brown: A boxer.
Brown: Close. It’s Marselles. Cassius Marcellus Clay.