Brad Stevens is the latest. Before him is a long line of college coaches who tried their hands at the NBA game — and the picture isn’t pretty. Far more failure than success.
Larry Brown is an exception. He is the lone coach to win an NBA championship (2004 Pistons) and an NCAA tournament title (1988 Kansas). He knows his stuff.
And he is in Stevens’ corner — he thinks the Celtics young coach can be one of the exceptions. Bill Reiter at Fox Sports got Brown to talk about the differences is coaching at the two levels.
“The games are completely different,” he said. “When you’re at a college game, in the second half you probably have to make two or three decisions late. In a pro game you probably make 30. And you times that by 100, and then times that by 30, and there’s a huge, huge difference. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint. College has much fewer games. In the NBA, a lot of these great college coaches — I coached young guys who lost more games in a two-week period than they did their whole college careers. So that’s no fun. That’s a huge adjustment for coaches, too. That’s not easy.”
How hard is it?
“Jerry Tarkanian took over for me in San Antonio and didn’t last 30 games,” Brown said.
Stevens has a six-year deal and in theory time to both find his way in the NBA and time for the Celtics to put the right players around him to win. But they are not going to win a whole lot next season (even if they keep Rajon Rondo to build around) and both Boston fans and ownership need to be prepared for that. Talent wins and Boston is rebuilding — they don’t have much.
Brown also said that Boston getting the right assistant coaches is key.
“Now here’s the challenge for Boston,” Brown said. “It’s really vital they put people around Brad who are there to help him grow, who don’t feel they should be the head coach. I always get confused when they hire these head coaches or ex-players players and say, ‘We have to get an older guy next to them to help them. I always thought that was ass backwards. Brad’s done practice plans. He’s broken down films. He’s started from the very bottom. He knows how to coach. So now the challenge for [Celtics GM] Danny [Ainge] is to surround Brad with guys who only care about making sure Brad Stevens is the greatest coach he can be.”
Stevens is going to get his chance. We’re going to see if he can coach, but a lot of his success will depend on who Danny Ainge gives him to work with.