The 2nd annual NBCA (National Basketball Coaches Association) coach of the year award voted on by the 30 head coaches in the league was announced this past week.
The NBA “Not Basketball Anymore” and the NBCA “Nothing But Coaching Athletes”, but as far as the 29 NBA coaches it should stand for “NO BRAIN COACHES ANYMORE” when it came to the balloting for their NBA Coaches Coach of the year award. Brad Stevens of the Celtics did not receive one single vote from the 29 other coaches and only 8 coaches received votes.
In his 5 years as the Celtics coach he has never won a NBA coach of the year award even though he turned the franchise around in just his second season.
Not to take anything away from the coaches choice of Coach Dewayne Casey of the Toronto Raptors it is unbelievable and inconceivable that Stevens did not get one single solitary vote.
All Stevens did was lead the Boston Celtics to 55 wins and coach the top defense in the league, 2nd place in the Eastern Division Conference after losing newly acquired Gordon Hayward 5 minutes into the season and having Kyrie Irving traded to Boston from Cleveland miss 22 regular season games and still finish 2nd.
I’m not even talking about what he has done so far in the playoffs without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to starters who will not play in the playoffs because of injuries by reaching the Eastern Conference Finals by beating Milwaukee in the quarter-final round 4 to 3 and Philadelphia in the semi-final round 4 to 1 and not losing a home game so far as they head into the final round against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He took a group of young players, gave them the confidence as injuries happened and players have stepped up when called upon by Stevens.
He has broken the coaching myth in the NBA that college coaches cannot be really successful coaching in the NBA. Look at nationally known successful college coaches Rick Pitino and John Calapari and their struggles coaching in the NBA. So much so that they both went back to college coaching.
He certainly is not a self-promoting attention seeking coach that should make him unpopular with his fellow coaches.
I certainly agree with Charles Barkley’s comment on Inside the NBA program the other night after the Celtics won the semi-fijalssries4-1 over the 76ers, when he said for Stevens not to get a single vote from his fellow coaches meant that there were one of two reasons, one of which was JEALOUSY.
To me I definitely agree with Barkley it had to be the GREEN MONSTER JEALOUSY as Stevens did the most with the least by bringing his college concept of coaching basketball to the NBA and has been very successful in turning around the staggering Celtics prior to his arrival 5 years ago.
No other college coach or NBA coach for that matter has ever done that before and to turn around the franchise in 2 years as his 2nd team made the playoffs in 2014 finishing 4th in the Eastern Conference and finishing 2nd in 3 seasons and 1 time as the number one team.
This has probably rankled many of the other 29 coaches, owners, players and general managers as most of them believe the way to coach a NBA franchise is the way it has been done for years and that the college way Stevens coached at Butler would never work successfully in the NBA. Most of the NBA coaches today come directly from the pro ranks as assistant coaches/former NBA players to become head NBA coaches.
Brad Stevens, who coached at Butler University was not as successful a college coach as Rick Pitino or John Calapari as he never won a national NCAA Championship. What he did do though was take a small university recruited and coached those players he recruited in a unique and different way that got his underdog Bulldogs to two consecutive NCAA Final Four Championship games only to lose to Duke and Villanova.
His approach to college recruiting or NBA drafting, trading, etc in the NBA seems to be just the opposite of other coaches at those levels who usually draft or recruit athletes first, basketball players second, basketball IQ’s third and good human beings fourth and last as Stevens goes in the complete opposite direction looking for good human beings first, basketball IQ’s second, basketball players third and athleticism 4th and last.
He is looking for basketball players who rely on their basketball skills not their athleticism which means that they are usually more coachable, will be willing to learn his system which requires high basketball IQ potential so as to play the team game from the shoulders up and not from the shoulders down like most athletic players relying on their athleticism which leads to good making basketball decisions of good shot selection, reduced turnovers, fewer player control and defensive fouls.
He has taken this college philosophy right into the NBA according to injured Celtic Kyrie Irving. You cannot tell if the Celtics are up 20, down 20 or it is a one point game as Brad Stevens expression hardly ever changes as he watches the game with his arms folded. He doesn’t get on officials and does not get on his players. He is also a very humble person.
His response to not getting one vote from his peers was he wasn’t upset or concerned about himself, he was only interested in what was in the best interest of his players and team as he prepares them for their next series in the Eastern Conference Final Championship season against the 4th seeded LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers starting Sunday afternoon at 3:30 pm in Boston as the Celtics earned the home court advantage finishing 2nd in the Eastern Conference Seedings.
General Manager of the Celtics Danny Ainge has to be given a great deal of the credit in believing in hiring Stevens with only his college coaching experience at Butler. He went against the NBA grain and each day it looks better and better that it was a very smart and brave thing to do.
It will be interesting to see who wins the NBA Coach of the Year Media award as the media has no reason to be JEALOUS of Brad Smith, who is a better human being then he is a coach and certainly from this column’s corner that he is currently the best Coach in the NBA, let alone the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year.
Who do you think should have been the NBA coaches coach of the year for this past season, even if it is just based on the regular season let alone the playoffs?