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New Celtics head coach Brad Stevens inherits a Boston team that traded two of its best players, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, after the season ended.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The selection of Brad Stevens to coach the Boston Celtics is a mistake, although not by Stevens.
If you grow up a basketball fan and player and become a basketball coach, there are several iconic jobs that always will be intriguing.
Coach of the Boston Celtics is one.
The Celtics deserve credit for making a bold, unexpected move. And Danny Ainge, president of the Celtics’ basketball operations, deserves credit for realizing it’s better to start rebuilding than hanging on to players at the end of great careers.
However, everyone in the Celtics organization should know better than to hire a college coach with no NBA experience.
The only things similar between college basketball and the NBA is that the ball is round and the rim is 10 feet off the floor.
It’s often said college basketball is a coaches game while the NBA is a players game. That’s only partly true.
Coaches with the best players invariably win more than they lose. It’s just that in college, coaches get more credit, and considerably more money, than players.
Good coaches abound in the NBA, but few make more money than the stars of their teams.
And an NBA coaching job is so much easier when Le-Bron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant are on your roster and have your back.
If your star player doesn’t have your back, chances are you won’t have a job for long.
At Butler, where Stevens was the undisputed star, if a player was having a bad game, Stevens could bench him without fear of blowback. His authority was absolute.
In Boston, if Stevens is unhappy with Rajon Rondo’s performance during a game and benches the point guard, the young coach probably will hear plenty of blowback.
Rondo reportedly clashed with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who had a bit of success in Boston.
Are we to believe Rondo is going to have instant respect for a 36-year-old coach with no NBA experience?
And this doesn’t even include such challenges as dealing with a 24-second clock, the three-second rule on defense and that Stevens’ “grind it out” offensive and defensive philosophies at Butler have little chance to play in the NBA.
History is the best indicator of future success. College coaches who entered the NBA and struggled include John Calipari, Rick Pitino (in his second stint, with Boston), Tim Floyd, Lon Kruger, Leonard Hamilton, Reggie Theus, who had played in the NBA, and Mike Montgomery.
Chances are in three or four years, the question will not be if Stevens is on the verge of leading the Celtics to a championship. The question is more likely to be whether Stevens is in talks with administrators about the job at Duke, North Carolina, Indiana or Kansas.
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