Stevens on Life in Bubble, Brown's Persona, Hayward's Ankle and More
BOSTON – Brad Stevens touched on a long list of topics Tuesday morning amid a rare third consecutive non-game day during the NBA Playoffs.
The coach spoke about everything from living inside the league’s bubble environment, to Jaylen Brown’s persona, to Gordon Hayward’s right ankle, to his and the Celtics’ commitment to promote voter registration and participation.
Here’s a quick rundown of what Stevens had to say about each topic.
Living Inside the Bubble
The Celtics have been isolated inside the bubble for 11 weeks now. While some family members have been joined them inside the campus, life certainly remains far from normal.
Stevens said that the team, from top to bottom, has been committed since its arrival to finding joy in this process. While doing so has been difficult at times, the coach believes his group has been successful in that regard.
“I think one of the things that we’ve tried to do is we’ve talked about when we got here was about using an opportunity to inspire and empower and find joy in playing a kid’s game together,” he said. “We’ve tried to keep that focus.
“We want to do all of those things all within the context of trying to put our best foot forward and represent ourselves and our organization as well as we can. We talk about it constantly. It’s very important that we have a pulse on everybody in that regard and that we all look out for each other, and I think we’ve done a good job.”
Stevens admitted that this process has been far from easy for those involved, but it has yielded many great results.
“Thus far, it’s been challenging in some ways,” said Stevens, “but a rewarding experience in every other which way.”
Jaylen Brown the Person
Jaylen Brown has garnered much attention inside the bubble for his continued efforts toward social justice and equality. Although Brown is only 23 years old, he has continued to impress his coach with his ability to succeed and lead in multiple areas of life.
“Jaylen’s a high achiever,” said Stevens. “You can be a high achiever in every which way. He’s a guy that – we’ve talked about several times – is gonna do bigger things off the court than on it, and he’s a special player on it.”
Speaking from personal experience, Stevens commented that the more one gets to know Brown, the more impressive the young man becomes.
“I just think he’s extremely thoughtful, extremely caring and has great moxie and courage,” he said. “And so you add all of that together, and the basketball is just a glimpse into who he is, and then when you start learning more about him you realize who he really is, and he’s a special guy.”
Hayward’s Physical and Mental Response to Game Action
Gordon Hayward returned to action during Game 3 after missing nearly five weeks with a Grade III right ankle sprain. Stevens said Hayward responded well to playing 31 minutes Saturday night, despite that minute total being unexpectedly high.
“I didn’t anticipate playing him, necessarily, 31 minutes, but I didn’t think he looked like he was completely gassed either,” said Stevens. “I thought there were times where he obviously wanted to come out, and we took him out for a quick breather, but I was more worried about the conditioning aspect of it than necessarily the structure of the ankle.”
While the coach didn’t plan on playing Hayward for that many minutes, in hindsight, he believes it helped Hayward from a mental perspective.
“Now he knows he can do it,” Stevens said of Hayward’s heavy workload. “I think sometimes when you come back and you’re on a minutes restriction and you play 15 or 20, then the next step is 22, and the next step is 24, and the next step is 26. He knows he can do it as long as we pace those stints well.”
Stevens also made it clear that the team’s training staff “felt really good” about the structure of Hayward’s ankle, and that Boston’s three consecutive off-days following Game 3 also helped the cause.
National Voter Registration Day
The Celtics officially launched the Boston Celtics United for Social Justice collaborative on September 8. Months of preparation went into the development and launch of the platform, all with the intent of addressing racial injustice and social inequities in the Greater Boston area and beyond.
One pillar of the program is Voting and Civic Engagement, which is especially important today, on National Voter Registration Day. Stevens spoke of the steps the Celtics have taken to promote voter registration both inside and outside of the organization.
“We started, on Celtics.com, a voter registration area that was connected with When We All Vote,” he explained. “We presented that to our team a few weeks ago during the pause, and then we all worked together to make sure we were all registered ourselves and made sure we're all set.”
Stevens acknowledged the importance of action by the league, its teams, its players and its coaches following the words they’ve all spoken during the NBA’s restart.
“We realize that it's extremely important, if we're going to continue to talk about it, to make sure each of our voices are all heard in this election, obviously not only the presidential, but in every other part of it,” said Stevens.