Is Brad Stevens all that and a bag of chips?
Boston Celtics fans certainly would tell you so, but not every NBA coach is buying all the hype.
The 41-year-old Celtics head coach is considered one of the NBA’s preeminent masterminds, as well as a leading candidate for this season’s Coach of the Year Award. But during a recent appearance on Zach Lowe’s podcast, ESPN analyst Kevin Arnovitz revealed that one NBA coach wants everyone to pump the breaks on Stevens.
Here’s some of what the anonymous coach said, via Arnovitz’s paraphrasing:
“There are a lot of guys in our league doing a lot with limitations. How did Brad end up on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA coaches?” the coach asked. “I mean look, he’s done nicely, but last year you could argue he got outcoached by (Chicago Bulls head coach) Fred Hoiberg, coached by (Washington Wizards head coach) Scott Brooks to a draw, and then the (LeBron James) freight train or whatever. Yes, he started, they had to rebuild that process and he built a culture, and yes, it’s been nice.
“But OK, each year they add — Oh, hey, here’s the best playmaking two-way big man in the league in Al Horford. Oh, here’s a steady stream of top-three picks. Guess what we have for you this year? (Gordon Hayward) went down? It’s OK, because you have the best shot-making point guard in the league (Kyrie Irving).”
But wait, there’s more.
“The hagiography, deification of the holy Brad Stevens, can we just wait for a second?” Arnovitz said, paraphrasing the anonymous coach. “‘Can he just win more than one conference finals game? He’s got a lot of talent. He’s done well. We all respect him. We all steal from him, and everybody steals from everybody. Can you guys (the media) just cool it?”
To recap: This anonymous coach thinks Stevens is a good coach but is sick of the media and everyone else lofting the Celtics head man to a status he might not yet deserve. If you eliminate all the verbose language, his take really isn’t that hot — and might be accurate.
Furthermore, the NBA — perhaps more than any other professional sports league — is about superstars. If a team gets talented enough players, the coaching really is just an ancillary piece. Sure, culture is important (and the Celtics have a great one), but at the end of the day, professionalism and dedication to winning won’t stop LeBron James from dunking in your face.
Still, what Stevens has done since taking over the rebuilding Celtics in 2013 is, in a word, remarkable. Adding Horford and Irving undoubtedly made his job easier, but you could argue that neither player would be in Boston if it weren’t for Stevens. Moreover, the Celtics wouldn’t be where they are today without the baby-faced basketball wizard from Indiana.
And that has to be worth something, right?
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