BOSTON – In almost stealth-like secrecy, the Boston Celtics surprised not only the NBA and collegiate world but likely the entire sports world when they announced Wednesday that they have hired Butler University men’s basketball coach Brad Stevens as their new head coach.
Stevens replaces Glenn “Doc” Rivers, who left the Celtics last week to become head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
“The Boston Celtics announced today that they have come to an agreement with Brad Stevens to be the 17th head coach of the team. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not announced,” a team press release stated. “Stevens, age 36, has served for the past six years as the head coach of Butler University, never winning fewer than 22 games and leading the Bulldogs to two national championship games against Duke and Connecticut. He was the youngest coach to reach the Final Four since Bob Knight in 1973.
“A native of Zionsville, Indiana, Stevens was a three-time academic All-America nominee while earning four varsity letters at DePauw University, before graduating with a degree in economics. He later joined the Butler University program as the coordinator of basketball operations under then-coach Thad Matta, before being named head coach in 2007.”
Celtics president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, praised Stevens’ upbringing and abilities.
“Brad and I share a lot of the same values,” Ainge said in a statement. “Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic. His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18 (the Celtics have won 17 NBA championships).”
Stevens will be introduced to Boston media on Friday at 11 am ET at the team’s training center.
To his credit, Stevens has shown great loyalty to Butler. He had opportunities to leave for bigger coaching jobs over the last three seasons, but chose to remain in Indianapolis.
But when the Celtics came calling, it was an opportunity that both Stevens and Butler administration knew was too good to turn down.
“Our family is thrilled for the opportunity given to us by the leadership of the Boston Celtics, but it is emotional to leave a place that we have called home for the past 13 years,” Stevens said. “We truly love Butler University and Indianapolis, and are very thankful to have had the opportunity to celebrate so many wonderful things together.
“What makes Butler truly unique is the people that we have been so blessed to work with. When it comes time for our kids to look at schools, we will start with Butler University.”
In six seasons at the helm of the Bulldogs, Stevens compiled a record of 166-49 while at Butler, including a 12-5 record in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. He also recorded four conference regular season championships, three league tournament titles and trips to postseason play in all six seasons at the school.
Stevens’ 166 wins is the most for any NCAA Division I hoops coach in the first six years to start a career, according to CBSSports.com. He’s also the only coach in Butler and Horizon League history to lead a team to the Division I national championship game in both 2010 and 2011.
“In keeping with The Butler Way, Brad has given his talent to our University with exceptional generosity, integrity, and humility,” Butler president James M. Danko said in a statement. “His record as the winningest coach in NCAA history during his first six years as head coach, his leadership of Butler’s dual Final Four runs, and his work ethic have made him a beloved member of our community.
“We have done everything we can to keep Brad here at Butler; however, the Celtics team has offered Brad and his family a unique opportunity with which no university can compete.”
Stevens’ hiring comes at a crucial time for Butler, which will compete in the Big East conference this season.
“Brad is leaving a great legacy and an excellent foundation for us to build on” Butler vice president and athletics director Barry Collier said. “Our athletics program has an extremely bright future, and we are confident that Butler’s first year in the Big East will be an outstanding one.”
Kings pull Iguodala offer
The Sacramento Kings have backed down from a four-year, $52 million offer to free-agent small forward Andre Iguodala that was reported Tuesday night.
The bid is no longer on the table, USA Today reported early Wednesday. The Kings apparently are rethinking their rebuilding plans under the new ownership group.
Iguodala had walked away from $13.9 million for the 2013-14 season with the Denver Nuggets to become a free agent.
The Kings have former Nuggets front office man Pete D’Alessandro calling the shots, and he likely knows the breaking point for Denver in free agency.
Iguodala reacted to the news on Twitter late Tuesday night, saying “WOW!!!!” and then “Really?? Ok…MOTIVATION!!!!!!”
Iguodala, a former lottery pick traded last offseason from Philadelphia to the Nuggets in the deal that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum to the 76ers, averaged 13 points, five assists and five rebounds per game for the Nuggets. He’s a strong wing defender and can be used for some minutes as the primary ballhandler.
Denver is still interested in retaining Iguodala and he is considering the possibility of staying with the team, but the large offer from the Kings and high interest from Detroit, Golden State and Boston is a significant roadblock to the overhauled Nuggets.