Jayson Tatum is used to seeing Bradley Beal do everything first. Both are from St. Louis and became good friends growing up, but Beal is five years older. So, he was the first of the two to star at Chaminade High School, then in college and then in the NBA as a top draft pick.
Tatum followed in Beal's footsteps every step of the way, but now both of them are first time Olympians set to star for Team USA. In some ways it culminates a journey they can't help but be amazed by.
"We're both excited. For one, we grew up five minutes from each other," Beal said. "To have two of the guys from the same high school on the same team, I don't know if that's ever happened for USA Basketball. We're excited about it."
"Two guys from the same neighborhood, the same high school going to the Olympics from St. Louis, that's like a dream. That is amazing," Tatum said.
Beal remarked how they had never played on the same team in organized basketball or even in pickup games before this past March when both started the All-Star Game for Team Durant. But that was a one-off exhibition game. Now they get to practice together and go to battle on the international stage with the prospect of winning a gold medal on the line.
This is entirely different and they are thrilled to be able to compete on the same team together. Despite being opponents in the NBA, Beal as a member of the Wizards and Tatum with the Celtics, they have remained close. That is even despite playing each other in the postseason just a few months ago.
Beal described their friendship as "special" and says he is always rooting for Tatum's success. Tatum described what Beal has meant to him in great detail.
"I think that was the mentor and older brother that I didn't technically have in the house. Someone that just accomplished everything that I was trying to do. I've seen how to do it firsthand, what it took from 1-on-1 workouts to picking me up every day in the summertime," Tatum said
"One-and-done [in college], Gatorade player of the year, top-3 pick. It's just motivation, honestly. He's someone that I've always looked up to and still look up to to this day. It's just we want the extreme best for each other. Two guys that play at a very high level and are always pushing each other. When he scores 50 or something, I'm trying to do it and vice versa. That's just kind of the relationship that we have."
Beal and Tatum aren't just throw-ins on the Team USA roster. Both could play an integral role in whether the United States can win gold for the fourth straight Olympics.
Now it's up to them to continue making St. Louis and Chaminade High School proud.