Just over a week after the Los Angeles Clippers lured long-time Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers away from Beantown, here comes this development from the “out of left field” department: the Celtics have hired Butler Bulldogs’ head coach Brad Stevens as their new leading man.
I hadn’t really given Rivers’ replacement much thought, but Stevens definitely wouldn’t have been at the top my list — or even on my list at all — given that he has taken the Butler basketball program from afterthought to national prominence.
In six years at the helm of the Bulldogs, the 36-year-old, who is actually about five months younger than Kevin Garnett, one of the players the Celtics recently dealt to the Brooklyn Nets along with fellow veterans Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, posted a 166-49 record, including a 12-5 mark in the NCAA tournament.
Stevens led Butler to postseason play in each of his six seasons — be it the NCAA tournament or the NIT — with the squad enjoying its most successful seasons in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 despite losing to the Duke Blue Devils and the Connecticut Huskies in back-to-back national championship games.
“Brad and I share a lot of the same values,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. “Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic. His teams always plays hard and executes on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him toward Banner 18.”
That may be so, but success doesn’t always translate from the college game to the NBA.