Those of us with Midwestern roots are ingrained with certain inalienable virtues. And be it Rome, Tokyo, numerous careers of varying success or simply crossing the county line, these tend to travel well wherever we go. Webster’s would define these as “taking pride in hard work, maintaining a no-nonsense attitude and knowing when it’s cold enough to start using the buttons on your jacket.”So it was Brad Stevens announced in July that he was leaving Butler for the NBA and, while those close to the program were rocked to their core, the talking heads declared it one of those rare occasions where both parties involved had made a colossal mistake. For Stevens, leaving Butler appeared a disastrous move. The Bulldogs were entering a new conference which meant new opportunities and wider exposure. All of which figured to reap stronger recruiting classes and the possibility of challenging once again for that elusive national title he’d already been so close to snatching up from his tiny perch at Butler.
For the Celtics, it meant hiring a coach with no NBA experience and one that had been leading a mid-major program for only 6 seasons. His introduction to the NBA would include piloting a roster comprised largely of castaways and project players destined to wilt in the shadow of two cornerstone stars who’d bolted, chasing another ring out of town.
Stevens was walking into a meat-grinder. The NBA would slap that boyish grin from his face before he could call his first time out. He’d be a shell of his former pragmatic self by Thanksgiving. But when the Celtics took the floor last week and completely dismantled the New York Knickerbockers and their high priced roster 114-73, there they were; taking pride in hard work and approaching things with a no-nonsense attitude.