At first, Brad Stevens didn’t realize that Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of when he signed his six-year, $22 million contract to become the Boston Celtics’ coach.
Stevens, who replaced Doc Rivers on July 3, 2013, had been an assistant and a head coach at Butler University since 2001. He led the Bulldogs to five NCAA tournament appearances and two national championship games as head coach.
Because of this, he vividly remembers the day he decided to move on just a year ago.
“Obviously, those few days were tough, but that was a good problem to have,” Stevens told The Boston Globe. “That’s what I remember from it. It was pretty emotional leaving that day. There’s no question about it. But I was glad that the (Butler) players got to hear it from me first and nobody else.”
Stevens was the first person Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called after Rivers’ departure, and they agreed upon a deal in a matter of weeks. Still, Stevens says the choice wasn’t easy.
“It was emotional because you’ve been at a place for 13 years,” Stevens said of his time at Butler. “That place (Indiana) was also home for 33 years.”
Stevens went on to say that some of the struggles he experienced in his first season as an NBA coach, in which the Celtics went 25-57, were extremely valuable learning points for him.
“I feel great one year later,” Stevens said. “Frustrated, always disappointed, with the season we had, but I feel like from a knowledge standpoint and an awareness standpoint, I’m so much more ready for this summer league in Year 2.”