Butler Basketball: Brad Stevens Accepts Celtics Job—from a Butler Perspective

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Butler Basketball: Brad Stevens Accepts Celtics Job—from a Butler Perspective
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Commend new Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens for one thing.

At least he didn't kick Butler University to the curb on an hour-long ESPN special.

Shots at LeBron aside, the world of Butler basketball didn't just get turned upside down yesterday. It may have completely imploded.

Thirty-six-year-old Brad Stevens, the coach with the most wins in his first six seasons in NCAA Division l history, has bolted for greener pastures (figuratively and literally), as he accepted an offer to coach the Boston Celtics.

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the pact is worth $22 million over six years.

From the national basketball fan's perspective, the move makes perfect sense for Stevens. And why wouldn't it?

His salary will be more than triple the amount he made at Butler. The Celtics are one of the most prestigious franchises in the NBA, owning the most championships in league history. He has the chance to continue a legacy and tradition containing the likes of Red Auerbach and K.C. Jones.

And as great as he was as a college coach, recruiting has never been his forte. He won't have to worry about that in Boston and can focus on his strengths, X's and O's, revolutionary analysis, managing various personalities masterfully and looking dapper on the sidelines.

Butler fans, on the other hand, just got absolutely blindsided. Nobody saw this coming.

There are probably about a thousand emotions Bulldog fans have had since hearing of Stevens' departure. They may range from anger, sadness, eagerness to partake in July 4 festivities, more anger, appreciation for a great coach and the urgency to want to eat their sorrows away with a gallon of Rocky Road.

Did I mention that nobody saw this coming?

Not even Matthew Graves, Bulter's former associate head coach, who was recently hired by South Alabama as its head coach, was enlightened until the rest of us were. Had he known he was in line for a promotion at Butler, he would have been crazy not to stay.

Brad Stevens turned down Illinois a year ago. He turned down UCLA even more recently, and he just handled it all so nonchalantly. As if nothing else mattered to him except Butler University. 

Which is why it just stings all the more if you're a Butler fan.

It's not like he'd be the first coach to leverage a good situation into a better one. Heck, he wouldn't even be the first Butler coach to do so. Predecessors Thad Matta and Todd Lickliter used Butler as stepping stones to land jobs at Xavier (and eventually Ohio State) and Iowa, respectively.

So why does it seem to hurt so much worse with Brad Stevens?

The answer is not as scientific as his basketball acumen. He just seemed different than the rest.

You would expect someone like Rick Pitino to vault himself into the most ego-feeding coaching situation possible. Same with John Calipari and Larry Brown, who have made similar leaps to the ones Stevens just did.

And while the finance and logistics of the decision may be great, you have to wonder how happy Stevens will actually be in Boston.

First, a college basketball coach is far more important to his program than an NBA coach is to his franchise. In college, with the roster turning over drastically each year, the one constant is the coach. Not that an NBA coach isn't vastly important to his team's success, but by and large, the NBA is a players league. And the Celtics roster is a mess.

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (who happens to be older than Brad Stevens, so go figure) are gone from what was a mediocre team last year. Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green are the team's best players, but Rondo has been the topic of trade rumors all offseason. Outside of those two, there isn't a whole lot to be excited about from a talent standpoint besides the number of hot dogs Jared Sullinger can wolf down in one sitting.

To be frank, he probably would have had a better chance of winning a national championship at Butler in the next five years than he does winning an NBA championship with the Celtics.

Now? Brad Stevens is basically to Butler basketball as the elusive "true love" is to the hopeless romantic. There's always the one who may seem different, but in reality, they're all just the same.

Or another way of putting it: Brad Stevens is to Butler basketball as a can of Cheez Whiz is to my understanding of how analogies work. Regardless of how you spin it, the Bulldogs come out on the losing end.

Hyperbole aside, the program is not doomed. In fact, they are far from it. Even before the arrival of Stevens, Butler was a respectable program that was an NCAA tournament threat each year.

But sadly, the program could have exploded had Stevens stayed as quickly as it imploded when he left. While they will still be competitive, it's hard to imagine them becoming the national powerhouse many predicted they could become with the combination of Brad Stevens and the Big East.

In all sincerity, best of luck in Boston, Brad. I wish you nothing but the best with your NBA coaching career.

But if it doesn't work out, we'll be here in six years.

 

 

 

 

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