Turns out Boston Celtics fans weren’t the only ones worried about Indiana University reportedly offering head coach Brad Stevens a lucrative new college gig.
His boss, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, was also concerned. Ainge, who was a guest alongside Chris Gasper on WCVB-TV’s Take 5 Podcast, talked about what that experience was like for him and Stevens.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Celtics!
Considering how difficult the past 10 months have been for Boston, Ainge isn’t disappointed in his — currently sixth in the Eastern Conference at 31-27 — team or its head coach.
Danny Ainge On Brad Stevens’ New Job Offer: ‘We Had A Conversation, I Asked Brad’
Instead, Danny understands how valuable his head coach is and says if anything, the reported job offer in itself exemplifies that.
“If anything solidifies how good of a coach Brad Stevens is it’s when job opportunities come up — big-time job opportunities, good jobs — that Brad is the first on the list and the highest on the list,” Ainge said, via WCVB-TV’s Take 5 Podcast. “So, anybody who doubts whether he’s a great coach or not — even for the NBA — I think the notion is “oh, he’s a great college coach.” No, it’s about the players you have, Brad’s been a great coach everywhere he’s been.
“He’s done a great job for the Celtics, he did a great job at Butler and he would do a great job anywhere he went.”
Clearly, Ainge wasn’t surprised. However, when pressure mounted, Danny admitted it forced him to have a talk with the Celtics head coach.
“We did have a conversation; I asked Brad where his head is,” Ainge said. “I think that this has been a really hard year and a hard last year in the bubble; away from his family. You know, condensed with two months in the offseason just to go again — I think this has been challenging for everybody in the NBA. We’re grateful for our coaches and our players who allow all of us that are in the NBA world — from the arena workers to the employees of the organizations — to keep getting paid, keep having jobs.
“And the players and coaches have made a lot of sacrifices for everybody else.”
Danny Ainge On Brad Stevens’ Future: ‘We Just Gave Him a Five-Year Extension, He Has Six Years Left’
The hurdles that the Celtics — along with all of the other 29 NBA teams — have faced year-long are easy to overlook while All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are putting together stellar seasons. But, when the outside noise reached a boiling point — which was fans calling for Ainge to fire Stevens — Danny says he was forced to set the record straight.
“I think that Brad is pretty well-appreciated by the media and by the organization but yeah, there’s this noise out there,” Ainge added. “When I do interviews like this, often, I’m asked these questions, you know, like, “Is Brad in danger,” like what? Are you kidding me? We just gave him a five-year extension; he has six years left on the contract.
“We love the guy.”