Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens provided insight this week into the team's meetings with prized free agent Kevin Durant this offseason, highlighted by how impressed he was to work alongside New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the effort, which ultimately came up short.
Bill Simmons of The Ringer passed along comments the 39-year-old head coach made on The Ringer NBA Show podcast about when he learned Brady would be joining the group, what one of the country's most famous athletes discussed with Durant and his overall feelings about the QB's involvement:
So, I didn't even know that [Brady] was going for sure until that morning. ... The players and I flew together from Atlanta, because we had met with Al [Horford] the evening before. [Brady and Celtics representatives] quickly went out to eat lunch before the meeting, and you know, I think [he is] a great example of a guy that is obviously an incredibly high achiever, has won at the highest level, is totally committed to being the greatest that he can be, and loves being a part of Boston sports. He loves living in Boston, talked about how much his family enjoys Boston ... about raising his kids here — you know everything else.
Stevens also discussed how Brady came across during the meeting, which was one of several Durant held before deciding to join the already star-studded Golden State Warriors:
He really came across as just a normal guy, and I was really impressed with him. It was the first time I had really spent any time with him. I had been to a practice of theirs before where I got a chance to meet him briefly, but he was great and people respect not only the fact that he's accomplished all that he's accomplished, but he's just a really down-to-earth person.
It's hard to imagine finding any athlete better to sell the city of Boston than Brady. He's led the Patriots to four Super Bowl titles since arriving to the city as an unheralded sixth-round selection out of Michigan in 2000, and his legend will live on long beyond his playing days. The only person in the same stratosphere is Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who also tried to recruit the dynamic forward via Twitter:
The effort almost worked, too. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald noted Durant knew the Celtics meant business when the future Hall of Famer walked into the meeting.
"I was ready to just say, 'All right. Let's go. I'm ready to go,' seeing [Brady] there," Durant said. "Just seeing someone so successful at his craft and just a great ambassador for the game of football and the city of Boston, it was just great to be in the presence of greatness."
Even though the Celtics weren't able to land Durant, who will instead team with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to form one of the best shooting trios in NBA history, Stevens told Simmons he felt the team "put our best foot forward" during the recruitment process.
The offseason wasn't a lost cause for Boston despite missing out on the top target. It still added four-time All-Star forward Al Horford to a squad that finished tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference last season to improve the outlook heading toward the 2016-17 campaign.