Emotional Brad Stevens tasked with leading the Celtics through dark clouds – NBC Boston

Forsberg: The emotional Stevens charged with leading C through dark clouds appeared originally on NBC Sports Boston

Brad Stevens’ voice trembled near the beginning of his opening statement.

“It’s obviously been a tough time,” Stephens said on Friday, as he and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck held a joint press conference to address the season-long suspension imposed on coach Ime Udoka for violations of team policies.

Stevens then resisted emotion when he expressed his dismay at the “Twitter speculation, bulls outbreak—” that Celtics female staff endured in the wake of reports that Odoka had engaged in an intimate, consensual relationship with a Boston employee that led to an intense investigation into his conduct at the venue. Currency.

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The glow that was there 450 days ago faded when Stevens and Grosbeek debuted Udoka as the Celtics’ 18th coach. Stevens appeared to have escaped this week’s proceedings and has repeatedly spoken out about the fees being charged to his organization.

Even before Friday’s half-hour press conference inside the Auerbach Center, some team staff were concerned about the toll the Odoka saga had already taken on Stevens, as Stevens attempted to install an organization shaken by its coach’s excesses.

Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and head of basketball operations Brad Stevens speak out about coach Im Odoka’s year-long suspension due to multiple violations of team policy — and speculation circulating online about what happened due to the leaks.

Remember, hiring Udoka was one of Stevens’ first major decisions after being promoted to Head of Basketball Operations last year. The general manager puts his reputation on the line when deciding who should be the next head coach. Stevens smiled hopefully a year ago confident Odoka could push the heart of this team in a way that Stevens could no longer do.

Stevens was rewarded when the team took on Odoka’s character along the road trip that was in the 2021-22 season. Udoka delved into the potential of superstars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, holding all of his players accountable at every turn while demanding that they abide by team principles.

Unfortunately, Odoka did not do himself. And while he’ll have to deal with the fallout from his actions, it’s only natural that Stevens will bear some of that burden. Returning to Udoka’s introductory press conference, Stevens defends how Udoka was, “an authentic and superhuman person.” He was amazed at the determination Udoka showed in the grind until this major training opportunity finally showed up.

In his first season, Odoka spoiled his chance. It’s hard to see him get another chance in green.

The firm confidence Stevens had in Odoka, even as the team faltered last season, may have been eroded by this scandal. The team suspended Odoka for a season but it is difficult to envision, at the moment, a path to reconciliation. It’s unclear if Udoka can regain GM’s confidence and ownership again considering the turmoil his actions caused before the start of what should have been a season filled with unbridled optimism.

There was already plenty of work ahead for Stevens with a view to improving a roster whose depth was eroded before the end of the summer when Danilo Gallinari tore up the AFC Champions League in international play. The Celtics will rely heavily on a group of inexperienced senior men at the start of camp in hopes that they can at least bridge the gap so starting center Robert Williams can return to the field after a surgical knee cleaning hampered him during the last play-off of the season. Bigger moves may loom near the middle of the season and trade deadline.

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But Stevens’ workload is a little heavier now. He has unexpectedly had to find a new coach – assistant Joe Mazzola has been promoted to the interim position – and even with full confidence in Mazzola’s ability to lead this team – he will need to help the 34-year-old with the details of the coach’s life. .

“It’s not easy timing [Mazzulla] or the rest of the staff. But he is an exceptionally sharp and talented person. “I believe in him so deeply and in his ability to lead people, his ability to muster a room and stand behind him,” Stevens said.

Stevens played down the suggestion of whether he would consider returning to the bench this season. He was emphatic while noting that “Joe is the best option to do this – with a long shot.”

However, Stevens knows he will have to facilitate the transition of the coach who was preparing to simply join the Udoka crew on the bench.

Stevens said, “I told Joe this: I’ll be there for him without getting on his toes as much as he needs, but he doesn’t need much. I believe in that very strongly. I hope I can help him with any questions he has as he confronts him, but sometimes You just need someone who has been right next to you, to be able to come in and leave your shoulders down and talk about what you’re going to do through, and I hope I am for him.”

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Stevens’ most immediate goal is to ensure that all female employees in Boston who have been unfairly called in the past few days feel supported by the organization. Several times Stevens appeared on Twitter speculation.

However, he has navigated the thorny Friday morning routines with unwavering grace. He has been extremely silent about the investigation into Odoka’s behavior but expresses his sympathy to everyone who has been affected by this saga.

Stevens admitted that the Boston players would certainly be affected by the unexpected loss of their head coach.

Stevens said, “There’s a real relationship with a lot of guys, and rightly so. They’ve had a great year last year. There’s interest both ways. Humans are human. Someone else in the organization can come back on the field and everything is fine, not the way it is.

“I think this is a really, really difficult situation, but we will focus on progress in addressing what we need to address to get everyone ready to go on Tuesday to start a new season. I think we will be but I wouldn’t ignore the fact that there are human emotions everywhere.”

Stevens is often the best person to hide his feelings. But even he could not hide the losses this process inflicted. However, it is difficult for him to figure out how to get his team out of this dark cloud as quickly as possible.

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