After Brad Stevens led the Butler Bulldogs to consecutive NCAA Div. 1 Championship games, Danny Ainge knew he was something special.
So special, in fact, the Boston Celtics president of basketball operations referred to Stevens as the best coach in college basketball in 2010 to co-owner Steve Pagliuca, per Boston.com’s Nicole Yang.
After the head coach spot became vacant after the 2013 season, Ainge, Pagliuca, along with assistant general manager Mike Zarren and team owner Wyc Grousbeck, went to Indiana to visit Stevens at his home.
He told the four of them he loved Boston for its “extensive basketball history” and voiced confidence he could be a difference-maker for the team.
There was, however, one stipulation Stevens wanted to make sure was a go if he were to be offered the job:
“The one thing he wouldn’t do going forward was try to lose a game, or you know, ‘tank,’” Pagliuca said via Yang. “So if we were going to have a strategy, maybe like ‘The Process,’ he was not going to participate in that.
“We said, ‘No, we’re always trying to win. We’re going to try to win on the fly and rebuild on the fly.’ Who knows if we can do that or not, but that was certainly going to be the strategy. Tanking is different than developing talent. We try to keep all the good talent.”
After Stevens was assured tanking wasn’t part of Boston’s plan, the 36-year-old inked a six-year, $22 million deal to coach the Celtics.
And the rest is history.
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