The heated rivalry between North Carolina and Duke is one of college sports’ great traditions. While the basketball series is the primary source of contention between the two schools, the animosity extends to the football field as well. This rivalry took a professional twist with former UNC star quarterback Drake Maye and ex-Duke basketball standout Jayson Tatum both playing in Massachusetts—Maye for the New England Patriots and Tatum for the Boston Celtics.

Maye recently attended one of the Celtics’ NBA Finals matchups against the Dallas Mavericks and had the chance to meet Tatum after the game. Following their interaction, Maye couldn’t resist taking a subtle jab at the Duke alum.

“TD Garden’s awesome, man,” Maye said during Patriots media availability. “I’m glad they won. It was a big overtime game. If they didn’t win, I would’ve probably never gone back. They wouldn’t want me back in there if they didn’t win… Hoping they close it out. I got to meet — Jayson Tatum’s pretty cool, although he’s a Duke guy. Still a fan.”


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The former Tobacco Road stars, Drake Maye and Jayson Tatum, have established a strong presence in the Boston/New England sports market as the faces of their respective franchises. Maye is the newer arrival, having been selected as the No. 3 pick in this year’s NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Tatum, on the other hand, is already considered one of the NBA’s greatest talents and has led the Boston Celtics back to prominence in the league.

Maye had long been projected as a premier NFL prospect and delivered two remarkable seasons as the starting quarterback for the North Carolina Tar Heels. As a sophomore in 2022, he achieved career highs in nearly every major statistical category, including 4,321 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and an additional 698 rushing yards. While his production saw modest declines last fall, he remained one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.


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Tatum, meanwhile, is in his seventh NBA season and continues to represent Duke admirably as one of the many former Blue Devils in the league. A top-10 recruit, Tatum was a standout during his one-and-done season under coach Mike Krzyzewski, averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.3 steals.

Tatum held the upper hand over UNC during his lone college season, with Duke winning two out of three games against their bitter rivals. They split the regular-season series and Duke clinched the tiebreaker in the ACC Tournament.

The rivalry between the Tar Heels and Blue Devils is based on contempt because the two schools are private and public universities located roughly ten miles apart. Over the previous 40 years, the schools have won more conference titles and national championships together than any other college basketball rivalry. Dozens of the game’s all-time great players and coaches have also played for the schools.

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