Brad Stevens Joins Elite Celtics Company with 250th Win
BOSTON – Red Auerbach. Tom Heinsohn. Doc Rivers. K.C. Jones.
Those four men represented the only coaches in Celtics history who had reached the 250 regular-season win mark with the organization prior to Monday night.
After a 107-99 win over the Miami Heat, Brad Stevens can add his name to that elite list, as well.
It took Stevens a little more than five and a half seasons to hit the milestone, and he did so while coaching a number of unique Celtics teams, from its rebuilding stage to its now potentially title-contending stage.
“I think he’s done great, not just with this team, but over the last five or six years just getting everything out of the groups that he’s had,” said Kyrie Irving, who did his part to help Stevens reach the mark Monday night by tallying 26 points, 10 assists and a career-high eight steals. “He came in here on a rebuilding situation and really put his mark on the teams he had, and I ended up playing him them three times in the playoffs (as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers). So, it’s great to see the success he’s had. Super proud of him to get his 250th win.”
Attaining the quarter-thousand mark with one team is difficult to do in the modern-day NBA, where the head coaching job is like a revolving door. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can appreciate what Stevens has accomplished, as he is one of the six other active coaches who has earned 250 victories with his current squad.
“We wish there were more places like Boston that have great ownership, management, stability, that know how tough this profession of coaching is,” said Spoelstra, who has a franchise-record 506 regular-season wins with the Heat over a span of 10 and a half seasons. “Then you add an extremely talented coach like Brad, there’s a reason why they’ve had banners and why they’ve had success. You have to have continuity and consistency and particularly when times get tough. They’ve had tough times and they’ve been able to weather those and be able to take the benefits from this. Brad is a tremendous coach and he’s been a great addition to the league bringing in a college background. He’s done a phenomenal job with a lot of different teams here.”
The first Celtics team that Stevens coached in 2013-14 won just 25 games. It was during that season that he realized just how tough it was to win in the NBA.
Fortunately, things went uphill for him and the franchise after that.
In 2014-15, Boston’s win total skyrocketed to 40, as it squeezed into the Playoffs as the East's seventh seed. The next year, it won 48 and nabbed the fifth seed. In 2015-16, that number climbed to 53, earning the Celtics the No. 1 seed in the conference. And last season, they improved ever so slightly to 55 wins, while placing second in the East.
In the process, Stevens became just the second coach in NBA history to increase his winning percentage annually over his first five full seasons with the same team, joining Mike Woodson who did so for six straight seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
With all of that being said, reaching the 250-mark is an accomplishment that Stevens never imagined he’d achieve with the Celtics.
“When you’re in coaching,” Stevens said, “you never think you’re going to get one (win), and you’re always like, ‘How do you possibly get the next one?’ So, I haven't even thought about it. It's just an honor to coach here and to get a chance to coach in this league against coaches like Erik Spoelstra.”
It was only eight wins ago, that Stevens passed Bill Fitch for fifth place on the Boston’s all-time wins list. The 42-year-old is now 58 wins victories shy of Jones, who owned a remarkable 308-102 record during just five seasons at the Celtics’ helm.
In third place sits Rivers with 416, and slightly ahead of him is Heinsohn with 427. Way ahead in first place, of course, is Auerbach with 795.