Danny Ainge and the Celtics introduced new head coach Brad Stevens today in Waltham. One early revelation: although Ainge’s 36-year-old hire was initially seen as a surprising choice, Ainge had actually been scouting him for the last few years:
“In 2010 [at the NCAA championship game] Steve [Pagliuca] and I went to the championship game against Duke,” said Ainge. “As I sat there, I said ‘that’s the best coach in college basketball right down there on the sidelines’ and he thought I was talking about Coach K.
“Brad was my first choice.” Ainge said. “I have watched and admired his poise… his intelligence, his teams, their effort, their execution under pressure. I’ve always looked at him the last few years as a guy that was a great candidate to be a head coach, never thinking it was going to be this soon in Celtics history.”
Stevens appeared legitimately humbled by his role as one of the new caretakers of the Celtics tradition.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here,” he said. “I am absolutely humbled to be sitting in this room and (to see) the banners that hang. One of the things I am so thrilled about is to work in a place that has such a high standard but that also places such a high value on culture.”
Stevens emphasized his process-driven approach to coaching and highlighted another area where he plans to set a high bar for himself next season.
“I believe in relationships. I’m really excited to sit down and meet all the players. The most important thing is to meet the people, spend time with the people and figure out what makes everybody go and figure out what collectively you can achieve.”
He also couldn’t escape the Rajon Rondo questions, which have been lingering since the announcement of his hire.
“As far as Rondo, there is no bigger fan of Rajon Rondo than me. He is a incredibly, incredibly talented person. I’m looking forward to sitting down with him and talking ball.”
If he completes his contract, Stevens will be the head coach of the Celtics for the next six seasons, through spring 2019. With that in mind, what did everyone think of the new coach? Did he make a good first impression on you?