COMMENTARY | During his time with the Boston Celtics as head coach, Doc Rivers became a fan-favorite.
Winning a championship certainly didn't hurt his cause, and he was loved for his toughness that rubbed off on the team. He is very well-respected around the league, and the Los Angeles Clippers are fortunate to have a coach of his caliber.
This is exactly what made replacing him so tough. Although the team is entering a rebuilding phase, it's never easy to replace a popular coach who has achieved so much. Danny Ainge hit a home run here, surprising many when the team announced the signing of Brad Stevens. Stevens has earned plenty of praise at Butler University, where he took the mid-major program to two consecutive championship games without very much NBA talent.
Now, Stevens is being complimented by a former Boston coach. Although many Celtics fans would love to forget about Rick Pitino, the Louisville coach believes that Brad Stevens will be a perfect fit in Boston.
Pitino is one of the major reasons why many critics believe college coaches cannot coach in the NBA. Despite his enormous success at the NCAA level, Pitino flopped in the NBA while coaching the Celtics. He is the perfect example that coaching in college is very different from coaching in the NBA.
Luckily, Stevens has the opportunity to learn from someone like Pitino. As a seemingly humble figure who is always looking to learn, you have to believe that Stevens will do everything possible to avoid the same mistakes the Pitino and John Calipari made in the NBA. With NBA talent comes NBA personalities, and Stevens will learn to adjust accordingly.
Strategically, there are few doubts about Stevens as a coach. He is one of the brightest basketball minds around, and many are surprised that it took him so long to coach in the NBA. The challenge will be earning the respect that Doc Rivers once had in Boston. Despite all of the chatter, it's hard to believe that an NBA roster won't appreciate and listen to someone like Stevens, who is so determined to improve every day.
Hopefully, the Brad Stevens era is much better than the Rick Pitino era.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering the Celtics for 3 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
- Sports & Recreation
- Brad Stevens
- Boston Celtics
- Rick Pitino