In 2000, Brad Stevens was given the opportunity to be a volunteer for the Butler Bulldogs men’s basketball team where he had to work part-time at Applebees to pay the bills. A year later after Thad Matta left, he was named an assistant coach and finally started getting paid by the university.
Fast-forward 12 years later to Wednesday when Stevens is once again making money for coaching basketball, but now it’s a lot more money to coach one of the most storied organizations in the NBA: the Boston Celtics.
On Wednesday the Celtics and Stevens agreed to a six-year, $22 million contract that makes the now former Butler head coach the new head coach of the Celtics after the departure of Doc Rivers.
Despite coaching at a mid-major program, Stevens was highly successful at Butler. In six seasons he accrued a combined record of 166-49 and finished as the National Runner-up in consecutive years in 2010 and 2011.
Though many people will point out the lack of success of college coaches making the transition to the NBA, pointing out names like Rick Pitino and John Calipari, that’s not a fair way at all to assess Stevens. Stevens is separate from those guys and deserves to build his own identity as a coach in the NBA, just like he did as a coach in college.
Many people have criticized the amount of money Boston is giving Stevens and how long is contract is for, but it’s clear that general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics are looking towards the future of their franchise and Stevens is a great hire in that regard.
While coaching at Butler, Stevens was always at a disadvantage by not having the talent that big-name programs are able to recruit. However, he is a coach that is great at analyzing and dissecting the game to help suit his team and he is a coach that is one of the best we’ve seen at maximizing the potential of his players and getting to play to their ceiling.
Considering that Boston is stockpiling draft picks and blowing up their roster for the future, isn’t hiring a coach that maximizes potential and gets players to grow the type of coach that you want in place? That actually seems like the ideal guy for that type of situation.
Stevens is undoubtedly going to have his hardships next season and there’s no telling what’s next for Rajon Rondo or how he’ll get along with Stevens. However, this is clearly a move that is looking beyond next season by Boston. With all that he has shown us to this point, it’s hard to bet against Stevens.