On July 4, the Boston Globe ran a story listing 11 potential candidates to replace Doc Rivers as head coach of the Boston Celtics.
The Globe went 0-for-11.
Later that day, Bob Ryan received a two-word text from his daughter:
Brad Stevens, it said.
“Yeah, what about him?” Ryan responded.
He’s the new coach of the Boston Celtics.
“Yeah, I was stunned,” Ryan admitted on The John Feinstein Show. “I think we all thought he was going to be Mr. Chips – that he was a college guy through and through. We did not know he harbored this ambition, (but) that’s fine.”
Stevens, now the youngest coach in the NBA, will lead Boston into its rebuilding phase without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
“Let’s get right to the chase here,” Ryan said. “It’s about a 30-year track record of failure (with college coaches going to the pros). It’s just been tough. (But) Danny Ainge isn’t stupid. He thinks Brad Stevens is the (right) guy.”
Ainge must now convince Rajon Rondo that Stevens is the right guy. Without Garnett and Pierce, Rondo becomes unequivocally the Celtics’ best player (assuming he wasn’t already).
“We’re going to find out things,” Ryan said. “This is my guess – and you can play the tape back to show how laughably wrong I was – I’m guessing if Rondo goes, it’ll be a trade-deadline thing (if and when) they decide it doesn’t work. But I think they’re going to try to make it work.”
Stevens has made clear he believes Rondo, 27, is an elite player. The Kentucky product possesses a wealth of skill and experience and perhaps hasn’t reached his prime yet.
But he’s going to have to change.
“The problem is two-fold,” Ryan said of Rondo. “One, he has to change his game to a degree. I think he loves assists more than he loves Ws. I think he’s a selfish assist guy who wants to finish with 15 assists – and that can be trouble – as opposed to taking the shot you can take and giving the ball to the right guy at the right time.
“And the second thing is, he does come in, I’m told, day to day, and you don’t know what Rondo you’re getting. One day he’s a charming Rondo. The next day he’s a surly Rondo. And that kind of inconsistency in behavior wears on everybody after awhile.”
Feinstein asked Ryan, point blank, Where is Stevens in four to six years? Is he on the precipice of an NBA Finals, or is he on the precipice of another Final Four?
“The odds are that he’s trying to get back to the Final Four,” Ryan said. “I’m not predicting it’s going to be that way, but the way to bet is (he will not succeed in the NBA).”
Of course, even if Stevens, 36, spends six years in the NBA and fails, he’ll be the same age that Erik Spoelstra is now.
“No matter what happens in the NBA, he’s a prime college hire for the rest of his life,” Ryan said.
Ryan also addressed the Aaron Hernandez saga, specifically Bill Belichick’s desire to take chances on players with checkered pasts – a practice Ryan expects will slow to a halt sooner rather than later.
“Be a human being for a minute,” Ryan wants to tell Belichick. “Are you or are you not creeped out by the idea that for an entire year, you, your staff and all your players interacted on a daily basis with someone who very likely murdered one person and (possibly) murdered three? Does that creep you out as a human being to think about – that he was in your midst? I would just like to see that answer.”