Seven years ago, the Celtics introduced a 36-year-old mid-major collegiate coach as the team’s new Xs and Os guru, hoping he was up to the task of filling in for popular head coach Don Rivers, who had led the team to the 2008 championship and the 2010 Finals.
That coach was Brad Stevens, who professed to be a bit overwhelmed by the task of taking over one of the most storied franchises in all sports.
“I’m very thankful to the Boston Celtics leadership team and ownership,” Stevens said at the time. “I am absolutely humbled to be sitting in this room and looking around me with the banners that hang. As any young basketball fan was or is, I’m just in awe of the Boston Celtics.”
Very steadily, though, Stevens has slid up the ranks of the all-time great coaches in team history. On Friday in Minnesota, where the Celtics beat the Timberwolves to open their post-All-Star road trip, he hit a major milestone: his 309th win, moving him out of a tie with coach K.C. Jones and into fourth place in franchise history.
Stevens is behind Doc Rivers, who is third with 416 wins, and Tommy Heinsohn, second with 427 wins. He could pass each of those coaches by sticking around two more seasons, which appears likely—Stevens has two more years on his contract after this one and has shown no inkling of going anywhere.
Of course, it’s a long way to the top in Boston. The No. 1 coach in franchise history is Red Auerbach, the father of the Celtics, who coached the team for 16 seasons and won 795 games. Stevens would need another decade or so with the Celtics to reach Auerbach.
Brad Stevens, Basketball Junkie
With the Celtics now 39-16 and in third place in the Eastern Conference, Stevens has pushed his winning percentage as coach up to .565. That ranks eighth in Boston history.
He opened the season with a career winning percentage of .549. Jimmy Rodgers, who coached the Celtics from 1988-90 is seventh with a Celtics career winning percentage of .573. Rivers posted a career mark of .577. Stevens is unlikely to catch either coach this season.
After a down year last season in Boston, Stevens has rallied this team into contention for one of the Top 2 spots in the East, despite losing free agents Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.
The Celtics did bring in Kemba Walker to be the anchor for the Boston offense. In an NBCSports Boston special, Walker told Paul Pierce he and Stevens quickly forged a strong relationship.
“He’s a basketball junkie,” Walker said. “He’s always watching basketball. He’s always watching film. He’s always trying to find ways to help us get better. And for me when I first signed, one of the first things we did was he invited me over to dinner, which really, was film. He wanted to watch film.
“He was like, ‘You know, come meet the family, eat some dinner, then we can watch some film after,” Walker added. “We watched film, and he asked me some of my favorite plays so we could kind of incorporate them into the offense, so I thought that was pretty cool.”