Brad Stevens has been regarded by many to be one of the brightest young minds in basketball today — and rightly so. In six seasons as the head coach at Butler University, he led the Bulldogs to five NCAA Tournament appearances, which included two runs to the National Championship game, and at 36 years old, he’s now the youngest head coach in the NBA at the helm of the Boston Celtics.
But have you ever wondered what Stevens would be doing if he wasn’t coaching? The answer may surprise you. On Thursday, WEEI.com’s Ben Rohrbach posted a podcast with the new Celtics coach, who talked about many things, from his thoughts on some of his new players, his philosophies as a coach and, of course, the other career path he had lined up before he was hired as a full-time assistant coach at Butler.
“I was going to work at an Applebee’s literally the day I got hired full-time at Butler,” Stevens said on the podcast, “so I decided I didn’t need to do that anymore.”
Indeed, he did not. The coach traded in his menus for playbooks and the rest is history.
Now, Stevens has been tasked with leading one of the NBA’s proudest franchises into a rebuilding era — a task not easy for anyone, let alone a first-year professional coach. There has been speculation that the Celtics should tank this season — as in, get as bad as possible on purpose in order to increase the team’s chances of drafting a franchise-caliber player, which the 2014 draft class is full of.
But Stevens isn’t buying any of that tanking talk. And neither are his players, he says.
“I never spend a minute thinking about it,” Stevens said. “It’s never been part of my vocabulary. It’s never been a part of the players in this locker room’s vocabulary or anybody in this building. I think it’s one of those things that we are going to try to be the very best we can be every single day. It’s part of the process. It’s part of the way that I believe in doing things. You strive to play to your standard every single day.”
Below are some other highlights from the Stevens podcast.
On Kelly Olynyk’s performance during the summer league
“I thought that Olynyk played as well as anybody that I saw throughout all of the summer leagues, and he’s a very versatile player who knows how to think the game and knows how to communicate the game, and I think he’ll be a quick study. And I think it will be important that he is. I think that we could really use the things that he brings to the table sooner rather than later. …
“He can dribble, pass and shoot at 7 feet. That’s a very vague description of him, but he can just do so many things. He can put the ball on the floor, pass with either hand, he can feed the post, he can shoot it, he can run in and shoot it, he can space and shoot it, he’s got all kinds of opportunities to affect the game. There aren’t many guys who are that size who are that multidimensional.”
On his new relationship with Rajon Rondo
“It’s been great. I think Rajon would echo this: We’ve only gotten a chance to meet once in person and talk over the phone or text a few times, so it’s not like we know each other really well, but I do think that there’s a lot of shared characteristics, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
On being a player’s coach
“That I think refers to somebody who is not only willing to get the input, but really evaluate the input of the people that are on their roster, and I do feel that way. I do feel that way. I want them to feel really good about where they are and that they are putting their signature on their work every single day.”