The Boston Celtics weren’t too inspiring on the court against the Chicago Bulls. But sometimes events transpire that are bigger than the game of basketball.
Such was the case Thursday, when head coach Brad Stevens missed the Celtics’ game at United Center to visit former Butler player Andrew Smith, who has been battling cancer for two years and recently was readmitted to an Indiana hospital.
How much did making that trip mean to Stevens? According to assistant coach Jay Larranaga, the Celtics head coach informed his staff 30 minutes before a noon team meeting he needed to leave immediately and visit Smith.
“He makes it very clear to our players on a day-to-day basis that family is the most important,” Larranaga said of Stevens, via MassLive’s Jay King.
Stevens’ nature suggests he wouldn’t overblow going far out of his way to support a family member in need. (Stevens considers many of his former Butler players family, especially Smith.) But his spontaneous decision to visit Smith left quite the impression on the players in his own locker room.
“I think that’s a great guy in general,” Evan Turner said of Stevens, via MassLive.com. “Just the character and what he believes and stuff like that, it’s unreal. I have Brad on a high pedestal. To hear what he’s doing now — I know the family really appreciates probably him being by the bed side and everything else.”
They certainly did, as Andrew’s father, Curt, tweeted out the following early Thursday evening:
Larranaga said he wasn’t sure when Stevens would return to the Celtics, but it appears the third-year coach is committed to sticking by his former player for as long as necessary.
Let’s hit a few other notes from Celtics-Bulls:
— Isaiah Thomas hasn’t done much to help his All-Star case of late.
The Celtics point guard is in the midst of a brutal stretch offensively. He’s shooting just 11 for 37 (29.7 percent) from the field over his last two games, a possible side effect of an apparently mild thumb sprain he suffered earlier in the week.
Thomas especially has struggled behind the arc: Since the New Year turned, the 5-foot-9 guard is just 4 for 24 from 3-point range. Stats like those likely won’t help this scenario:
— To his credit, Thomas shouldered all of the blame after the loss.
“I put that (loss) on me,” Thomas said, via MassLive.com. “I didn’t give us nothing. At both ends of the floor I had one of my worst games as a pro. And I have to do a better job. I have to do a better job of scoring the basketball, getting my teammates involved and just being an overall better player tonight. That was a bad one.”
— Larranaga now is 0-1 as an NBA head coach, but he shouldn’t be too hard on himself.
“I think he did a hell of a job,” big man Jared Sullinger said of his assistant coach’s cameo, via the Celtics’ Twitter account.
Apparently there’s one disadvantage Larranaga had entering Thursday night, though.
— A humorous scene from Wednesday night: Celtics radio analyst Cedric Maxwell used a hard foul in Celtics-Pistons to fire some shots at Rick Mahorn, who serves in the same capacity for the Pistons’ radio broadcast:
Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images
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