WALTHAM, Mass. — One just became the first rookie head coach to lead his team to a title since Pat Riley won with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982. The other still is searching for his first playoff win.
But Steve Kerr and Brad Stevens have more in common than you might imagine.
The Boston Celtics held their first practice of training camp Saturday, thus officially beginning Stevens’ third season as the team’s head coach.
Stevens has gotten plenty of praise within the organization since joining Boston in 2013, but perhaps more telling is the outside perspective newcomer David Lee offered Saturday.
The veteran forward, who won a title last season with Kerr and the Golden State Warriors, made an unprompted comparison to his former coach when asked about his initial impression of Stevens after the team’s first practice.
“(Stevens is) very similar to Steve Kerr last year, actually,” Lee said. “They have a lot of similarities — they’re very positive, and they’re teachers on the floor. It’s important for (Stevens) to be a teacher with the amount of young guys we have. But all the little details are very important to him, and those details are the things that win basketball games.”
Of course, Stevens and Kerr aren’t exactly the same guy. The affable Kerr spent over a decade as a player in the NBA and was a broadcast analyst for TNT for several seasons, while the more reserved Stevens went no further than Division III basketball in his playing career and cut his teeth in the college game at Butler.
Yet it appears Stevens has had no problem getting his message across to his players, and Lee has noticed.
“I was amazed — the amount of detail is the biggest thing,” Lee added. “He’s a numbers guy and a technical guy as you probably all know, so there’s a lot of stats in there of where the team can get better from last year and how thin the line is between being the fourth or fifth seed in the (Eastern Conference) and being the 12th and missing the playoffs.”
“He did a really good job of illustrating those things, and telling us defensively we need to be where we were last year and get even better, and offensively there’s a few categories we can get better at to improve that efficiency. I think it’s good for players to know Day One what needs to be accomplished, and you work every day to get better.”
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Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens during media day at the Boston Celtic Practice Facility.