BOSTON – There’s a little bit of St. Louis heading to the NBA Finals, but maybe not quite in the way most would expect.

St. Louis native and Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum just missed out on an opportunity to compete in his second consecutive NBA Finals. The Celtics went down 3-0 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Final, stormed back to even the series at 3-3, then lost Game 7 at home on Monday night in blowout fashion.

Tatum is loyal to St. Louis just about as much as any professional athlete from the area, though it appears he has competition in representing his hometown.

Heat star Jimmy Butler, following a Game 7 win and on-court celebrations Monday, sported a St. Louis Browns hat during postgame press conferences.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 29: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat arrives prior to game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on May 29, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Butler wore a white Browns hat with a brown bill and orange team logo on it, paired with an orange sweater. The six-time All-Star was asked a variety of questions about Game 7 and preparing for the next round, though it seems he wasn’t asked about his fashion statement nor did he acknowledge it to media members.

What is the purpose of the hat? It’s hard to conclude, but perhaps it’s an indirect symbol of trash talk, at least if you ask various Twitter fans.

The St. Louis Browns were part of Major League Baseball from 1902 to 1953, sharing Sportsman’s Park with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Browns often played second-fiddle to Cardinals in attendance and results, and a key marketing decision from the Cardinals in the 1950s essentially drove them out of town. The St. Louis Browns franchise name is now extinct, and they relocated to become the Baltimore Orioles.

How does this relate to basketball or Jimmy Butler? Tatum, the St. Louis kid of the Celtics, was probably the most notable star in the Eastern Conference Final series not named Butler. The Chaminade grad has emerged into a force over the last few years, a perennial All-Star with MVP aspirations.

The series loss, to some extent, is a bit of a step back from Tatum reaching the NBA Finals last year, and it marked an end to the Celtics season. The Browns, to some extent, represent St. Louis and also the concept of losing something, specifically a second MLB franchise.

By wearing a Browns hat, Butler might also be making a statement on his performance in the recent series compared to Tatum. Butler outscored Tatum three times in the series, including Game 7, and was only four points short of Tatum in total points scored over the seven-game battle. The Browns and Tatum are both unique parts of St. Louis sports history, but maybe Butler was trying to prove that he outplayed Tatum when it mattered most.

It’s worth noting again that Butler didn’t talk about the hat, but had an interesting message about the eight-seed Heat upsetting a two-seed Celtics seed.

“We stayed with it, stayed the course, shoot the open shot, stayed confident,” said Butler on winning the seven-game series. “We got a belief we could do something incredibly special. We’re going to hit the ground running when we get to Denver [for the NBA Finals], and I like our chances.”

Butler later noted on the Celtics that “They’re an incredible team over there, and they will be for awhile.”

Tatum, who dealt with a sprained ankle in Game 7, has yet to publicly comment on the hat, though sees Monday’s game as a learning experience.

“It’s tough. It’s as simple as that,” said Tatum during Monday’s postgame press conferences. We made it to the Conference Finals again, and were close to getting back to the finals and giving ourselves another chance. As you would expect, it’s tough.”

Butler and the Miami Heat begin the NBA Finals on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets. Miami has a chance at its fourth championship. Denver is going for its first NBA Final.