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BOSTON (CBS) – Brad Stevens was introduced by the Boston Celtics as their new head coach on Friday, and the 36-year-old is ready for a new challenge.
“I’m absolutely humbled to be sitting in this room and looking around with the banners that hang,” Stevens said at the Celtics practice facilities in Waltham. “As any young basketball fan was or is, I’m in awe of the Boston Celtics organization, and all that has been accomplished by the many coaches and players in what they’ve done in the past.”
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With the Celtics brass around him, Stevens recalled the first phone call he received from team president Danny Ainge about becoming the franchise’s 17th head coach.
“First of all, the Boston Celtics — wow. That is an incredible feeling, an incredible honor and it’s certainly flattering,” said Stevens. “Then you realize, as you go through the process, it’s been built as any great organization has. It’s on the people, on the values, and on the culture. I was reading Russell Rules, Bill Russell’s book, on my way over, and there are so many similarities on what we tried to set at Butler, and what was set there before I got there. I’m thrilled and honored to be entrusted with the opportunity to add to what is already a great organization and culture.”
Stevens said he has already spoken to the players currently on Boston’s roster, and will meet them in person in the coming weeks.
Ainge said on Friday that Stevens was his first choice to replace the departed Doc Rivers.
“When we had completed a transaction with the Clippers regarding Doc, my first phone call was to Brad Stevens… Brad was my first choice,” said Ainge. “I have watched and admired his poise and intelligence, his teams and their effort and execution under pressure. I’ve looked at him the last few years as a guy who is a great candidate to be a great head coach, never really thinking it would be this soon in Celtic’s history, but he’s a guy I’ve targeted for a long time as a head coach.”
After six successful seasons at Butler, Stevens becomes the latest college coach to make the jump to the NBA. That move has not been all that successful in the past, with Rick Pitino and John Calipari a few examples, but Stevens and the Celtics are confident his success will transfer into the pro game.
The six-year, $22-million contract the Celtics reportedly gave Stevens is a sign they are willing to go through the growing pains as he transitions to the pros.
“A six-year contract speaks loud. We understand we’re investing in him as a person,” said Ainge. “A lot of times with college coaches, I think those people you mentioned are fantastic basketball coaches. They didn’t fail because they couldn’t coach – the failure was from an organization standpoint.”
“We have to do this all together, and we have to give him the support,” said Ainge. “I do know he has some concerns about that; he had to take a leap of faith in us as an organization. There have been some really good coaches that didn’t have the opportunity to succeed.”
“As much as I took a leap of faith, so did they,” said Stevens. “That (six-year deal) spoke absolute volumes.”
And so the Celtics and Stevens begin their latest rebuilding process together. Both sides are aware the next few years will have its ups and downs, but they’re ready to go through them together, building towards the future.
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“We all know what we are about to embark on,” said Ainge. “Brad’s success will be determined a lot by what I do to support him. We’ve been through this rebuilding process before, and we’re all better for it and know what we’re about to embark on. He’ll have great support from ownership and management. Yes, there will be a transition from the college to NBA game, but we’ll give him the support to make that transition fast.”