WALTHAM, Mass. — If Brad Stevens could change one thing about the Boston Celtics’ practice facility, he’d move his second-story office down a floor.
“So that I’d get a chance to see everybody every day when they walk by before practice,” Stevens said Thursday, shortly after his players did just that.
Trade season in the NBA unofficially kicked off this week, an already hectic time period for players, coaches and basketball execs made exponentially more so by the advent of social media. The sheer volume of rumors, buzz and rampant speculation can be tough for even the most hardened professional athlete to deal with.
Stevens never had to worry about this kind of thing at his old job. You’d never see on Twitter that Creighton was trying to send a first and a second to Butler for Shelvin Mack. But while he’s still a relative newcomer to the NBA ranks, Stevens acknowledges the mental toll this time of year can have on some players.
“I think that a lot of these guys that are older have probably dealt with the (trade) talk throughout their years in the league, but I don’t know that it’s ever not unsettling,” Stevens said. “So, you just … the door’s open if anybody wants to talk about those type of things.”
This emotional aspect of sports often is overlooked. Stevens knows he isn’t coaching a group of basketball-playing robots, whose performance on the parquet in no way is affected by what’s happening elsewhere in their lives. Constantly popping up in trade rumors could very well wear on a player’s psyche, and if it does, Stevens believes the coach should be someone he can come to.
“(Coaching the players you have) has to be your focus,” Stevens said, “but I really look at it first and foremost as, everybody is a person, right? So, there’s a lot of emotions that go into those things. You just have to be aware that people can be affected by that. And it’s not as easy as just saying, ‘These are your 12 guys. Go play your best.’ So, I think you’ve got to make sure you continue to work, you focus, you help everyone that you can, and again, your door’s open to talk if people want to talk.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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