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Stevens is easy to like as a person, coach

July 8, 2013
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor (mmathison@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

I talk a lot in this column about being humble and how that trait goes a long way with whatever we do.

I talk about it a lot because I think it is that important.

We, as a society, need more of it.

And, that starts with us adults.

It is hard for kids to be humble when they don't see it out of us.

It is really easy to tell the adults who do not know the word as we all hear them at all types of sporting events.

You know, they are yelling how bad the high school quarterback is while mother of the QB is sitting two rows in front.

They whine about how tough the coach is, how bad the coach is and how every coach is doing a disservice to their child.

You know, because that 4-year-old T-ball player has a full ride baseball scholarship awaiting him at South Carolina.

Right next to the T-ball player is the 5-year-old soccer prodigy who will rewrite the girls record book on her way to North Carolina.

The Boston Celtics introduced Brad Stevens as their head coach Friday and his press conference was mesmerizing.

Every parent and player should watch and listen to what he said and how he said it.

Fascinating.

His humility is refreshing.

His talk about family and everyone being on the same page is great to hear.

He wasn't leaving Butler.

Then, Danny Ainge president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics called.

You take that phone call.

The most storied NBA franchise made Stevens an offer he could not and did not refuse.

"First of all, the Boston Celtics, like, wow - that is an incredible feeling," Stevens said during the press conference about the phone call from Ainge. "It's an incredible honor and it's certainly flattering."

Stevens is the youngest head coach in the NBA and there is nothing that says he won't be successful.

He is not Leonard Hamilton, Lon Kruger, Tim Floyd, Mike Montgomery or Reggie Theus.

He is not taking over a trash team with a trash organization.

It's the Celtics and their 17 championships.

It's Bill Russell.

It's Red Auerbach.

It's John Havlicek.

Remember, this isn't the first time the Celtics met with a successful college coach in relative secrecy.

Auerback offered Duke's Mike Krzyzewski the same job 23 years ago.

"My first phone call was to Brad Stevens. Brad was my first choice," Ainge said. "I have watched and admired his poise, his intelligence, his teams - their effort, their execution under pressure and I've always looked at him the last few years as a guy who was a great candidate to be a head coach - never really thinking that it was going to be this soon in Celtic history but he's a guy that I have targeted for a long time as a potential great coach."

Stevens led Butler to back-to-back NCAA championship games, losing to Duke and UConn.

He turned the mid-major into a major contender, going 166-49 in six years.

"I am absolutely humbled to be sitting in this room and looking around at the banners that hang," he said. "I'm in awe of the Boston Celtics and the Boston Celtics organization and what has been accomplished by the players."

Yes, the Celtics are going through a rebuilding phase, led by the departure of Doc Rivers to coach the Clippers and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.

But, Boston has Rajon Rondo and Stevens is the man to lead it through the transition.

"There's no bigger fan of Rajon Rondo than me," Stevens said. "I think the way he plays, his instinct, his ability to make other people better, he sees plays ahead of the play, he is an incredibly, incredibly talented person and everyone I've talked to has just raved about how intellectual he is, about how great he is. I'm looking forward to it."

Boston inked Stevens to a six-year contract, which shows its commitment to the coach.

"I think a difference is his humility," Ainge said. "I think as an organization, a six-year contract speaks loud. I don't think there's any other coach in the NBA with a six-year commitment from their team.

"We understand - we're investing in him as a person. I think a lot of times with the college coaches, I think with those people that you mentioned, Rick Pitino, John Calipari, are fantastic basketball coaches. They didn't fail because they can't coach. Failure was from an organizational standpoint, giving them the support. There were a lot of factors and I think those guys could easily succeed in the NBA."

Stevens said he understood what he was getting into.

"Certainly I'm aware of those names and I'm aware of everybody that's made the transition," he said. "Each situation is different, too. What I would look for in any work environment are people that are all on the same page, that all believe in getting the right people on the bus and believe in supporting each other.

"I think we really feel strongly about how we've been treated right from the get-go. It was the kind of working environment that I was used to. We felt at home. It was the right decision. It was obviously the right decision."

Stevens showed complete confidence (zero cockiness) in his ability as a coach to lead men.

He showed passion for the game, but, more importantly, passion for learning more about the game.

Stevens showed humbleness as he made the leap of faith.

He is impressive.

Really impressive.

QUICK HITS:

Relax Pirates fans.

How is Alec Buchmelter not in the OVAC football game?

High school football begins today. Don't just be a good teammate. Be a great teammate.

There is a reason why last names are not on the back of high school jerseys.

Nice doubleheaders at Indian Creek and Wheeling Island to open the football season.

Lakers are better without Howard. Highly overrated.

Lesser men have folded under the pressure Andy Murray has faced. That was brilliant tennis.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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