WATERTOWN – One of the bright, young stars of the NBA talked about the experience as if it were another lifetime ago.
In reality, the last time Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said he rode a bicycle was only six years in the past.
Yet, celebrity has its privileges, and therefore nobody was going to stand in the 20-year-old’s way when he hopped up on a bike and rode it around the Target at the Watertown Mall late Monday afternoon.
“I thought it would be funny,” Tatum said. “I haven’t been on a bike since I was 14, probably. So it’s been awhile.”
The moment brought a smile to Tatum’s face just as the whole event did for the 20 children from Boston’s Centers for Youth and Family Condon Community who received a surprise shopping spree alongside Celtics Terry Rozier and Tatum on Monday.
“It was great,” said Rozier, who donned a red stocking cap for the occasion. “I like the Santa Claus hat. It was good picking the kids’ brains and seeing what they like. Then matching it with my ideas – toys that I would get and had when I was young. So I had a lot of fun today.”
Rozier started with his shoppers in the clothes aisle before making his way to the fun stuff – the basketballs and Nerf hoop area – later in the day. Tatum went in the opposite direction as he started with his shoppers among the toys and electronics before hitting the sporting goods area to help pick out some Celtics gear.
“Just being around them and seeing how excited and surprised they were,” Tatum said. “Being around kids is the most fun thing we can do. Just see their reaction, and seeing how much fun they’re having being around us, it’s a great feeling.”
Each shopper got $250 to spend courtesy of the Celtics and Xfinity.
“They were definitely excited once they heard the budget they were getting today,” Rozier said. “I think they did a very good job. They had their charts and they did everything how they’re supposed to do it. They got a lot of things today.”
Rozier has been active in community service for the Celtics during his four years in Boston and remains so in his native Ohio in the offseason.
“Anyway I can connect with kids,” he said, “pick their brains, share ideas, and have fun, that’s more important than anything.
“That’s kind of what I do it for – the youth.”
While anytime is a good time to get to hang out with a pair of NBA players – dozens of unsuspecting Target shoppers were taken aback as well when they realized they were sharing the store with Tatum and Rozier – it also helped the mood that the Celtics hit a short break in the schedule riding a three-game win streak.
“We’re doing good,” Rozier said. “Christmas is coming up. We’re all in a giving mood. We all just want to give more wins.”
Scott Souza can be reached at email@example.com.