BOSTON (CBS) — When the clock hit zero on the Celtics’ Game 5 loss to the Nets on Tuesday night, Brad Stevens knew he had just spent his final night as head coach of the Boston Celtics. He just couldn’t tell anyone.
That came Wednesday morning, when Danny Ainge announced his retirement as Boston’s president of basketball ops., and Stevens was named his successor. Much like Stevens’ hiring back in 2013, it was a pretty well-kept secret by the Celtics.READ MORE: Celtics Host Six Players For Pre-Draft Workout, Including Auburn's Sharife Cooper And Texas A&M's Jordan Hall
And just because he’s now the man in charge of Boston basketball, it doesn’t mean Stevens is any less humble than he was just 24 hours ago. During Ainge’s retirement press conference, which also served as Stevens’ introduction as the new president of basketball ops., Stevens made sure that the spotlight remained on Ainge as much as possible.
“I’m not the story so Ill let this be a great, great celebration from me for a person I learned a lot from and really enjoyed working for,” Stevens said of Ainge on Wednesday. “This morning, it was a hard day. I know there is a lot of work ahead.”
Stevens would have loved to have kept coaching, but when Ainge and the Celtics came to him about this plan, he was happy to accept the promotion.
“I love basketball and I have loved my time as a coach. I also want what is best for the Celtics and want to do my part to achieve what we want to achieve. That is the driver for me,” Stevens said. “This organization means a lot to me and my family, so whatever they would have asked me to do, certainly. And I would have done with with the same enthusiasm I have.”
That was a report Wednesday morning that Stevens was worn out by the last two seasons, both from the disappointment on 2021 and from living in the NBA bubble for over two months last summer. But he cannot wait to get going with his new opportunity and job with the Celtics.
“This is a great new opportunity and I’m invigorated by it,” he continued. “I’m excited by it and I know there is a lot of work to do.”
That work will start with finding the next head coach of the Boston Celtics. The search has begun, but a hire won’t happen until after the postseason.READ MORE: Jayson Tatum Reportedly Commits To Play For Team USA In Tokyo Olympics
“One of the things I’ve learned being in coaching, coaching against other great coaches, is there are a lot of different ways to coach and a lot of different ways to be successful as a coach,” said Stevens. “I’m looking forward to diving into this process and the good news about whoever we hire, they don’t have to fill Doc Rivers’ shoes like I did or Danny Ainge’s shoes like I do. They just have to figure out a way to be better than the last guy.”
There’s Mr. Humble again. One thing you can rule out is Stevens hiring himself.
“I think it’s too much and all of my intentions, energy and focus need to be on doing this job well, and hiring a good coach and trusting they’ll do their job well,” he said. “I think everyone will benefit from that approach. To me, it would have been a lot to do both of those things. It would have been a great challenge.”
“I told him yesterday he better find a good coach or he will be doing both,” Ainge interrupted.
This will be a whole new venture for Stevens, who is going from X’s and O’s to negotiating contracts and swinging trades. But he’s confident that the Celtics — both the roster and the current front office — are in a position to succeed very soon.
“We are set up, not only from a player standpoint and with great coaches in the building, but Mike Zarren and Austin Ainge, that whole group, is going to make this transition very easy because they’re high-high level,” said Stevens. “They know the ins and outs of everything that needs to be known and I look forward to leaning on them as I transition.”
And even with a new job title, Stevens’ ultimate goal with the Celtics remains the same.MORE NEWS: Jayson Tatum Snubbed From All-NBA Honors, Misses Out On Big Pay Bump
“On and off the court, he wants to bring Celtics pride to the levels we’re accustomed to,” said owner Wyc Grousbeck. “We’re committed to winning Banner 18 together — or die trying.”