As if Boston has not had enough awe inspiring sporting headlines in recent months. Starting with the Boston Marathon bombings, then the Aaron Hernandez murder charge, then fan favourite coach Doc Rivers leaves Boston after ten years to become Head Coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, then on draft night the Brooklyn Nets trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a move that ended a golden era that brought one NBA title coupled with the continuing trade rumours involving Rajan Rondo.
Writers of the Boston Globe must have been hoping for a little bit of downtime following all the news, and we nearly forgot that the Boston Bruins lost the Stanley Cup finals to the Chicago Blackhawks. And then the Celtics GM Danny Ainge announced another blockbuster, with news of the replacement for Doc Rivers.
Many people speculated it would be Brian Shaw, a worthy assistant due his time at the helm, but Ainge surprised everyone by hiring a man from College Basketball, and not just anyone, but the highly regarded and proficient Brad Stevens from Butler, who has guided the Bulldogs to two National title games and game one long range three shot away from upsetting Duke.
Stevens has been at the helm for many Cinderella stories, but now he himself is living a fairytale. This is Cinderella staying for the night, getting drunk on Jager bombs and waking up next to Prince Charming and not minding the look of each other.
Stevens is 37 years old, he will be 38 on October 22nd, a few days before the season begins. He is now the NBA's youngest head coach and will more than likely have players nearer to his age, than other coaches. Yet he comes to the big dance (the proper one) with an amazing record behind him from his College days, taking Butler from the Horizon League nobody to tournament wonder story to college mainstay. This has been cemented by Butler being inducted into the newly restructured Big East.
Butler liked the guy so much they gave him a contract to remain the head coach until 2021-22 and leaves with a .772 percentage after six seasons. Stevens must heed the warnings however from past college coaches who have had less than thrilling times in the NBA such as Rick Pitino whose own time at Boston was one of infamy, a four year stint that ended 102-146 from 1997-2001 before he returned to the college ranks and Louisville.
For Boston, it can be construed as a gamble to hire a player who has only worked with college athletes and one without any experience of working with professional players either as a player or assistant coach (very similar to Chip Kelly's hiring) and yet they have a young, highly professional man of integrity and character who will get his players drilled. Luckily, he will mostly be starting from scratch with new players and faces - even if they keep Rondo, the Celtics are one of the teams expected to be in the NBA draft lottery next year to get the No.1 pick which is expected to be Kansas Jayhawk, Andrew Wiggins.
In the worst case scenario, Stevens should be given at minimum two years with this and next year's draft picks to create a mood and positive environment; Boston is going through a transition and young Brad deserves a little bit more than the title of transition or a flash in the pan. Should it all end in tears, Stevens will easily snap up any high end Division I college basketball job due to his great work ethic and results.
Think of it like David Moyes replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United; the young new manager needs time and no sense of impatience nor upheaval.
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