Evan Turner played just two seasons in Boston, but Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has a feeling that “everybody in the media probably wishes Evan were still here.”
“He was a great quote,” Stevens said of his former player.
Turner may have a history of offering colorful commentary to reporters, but Stevens joked there’s an important asterisk that should be appended to that statement. Sometimes the forward’s quotes were, well, simply not true.
While speaking at the Positive Coaching Alliance’s “Respect Your Rival” event in November, Stevens recalled one of the times Turner exercised his artistic license on the coach’s halftime comments.
In March 2015, the Celtics were down by 10 points after the first half against the Orlando Magic. Boston went on to come back for a 95-88 victory, and according to Turner’s postgame interview, the team’s improved performance may have been inspired by a “threat” from their coach.
“He told media after the game that I said at halftime, ‘If we don’t start playing better, there’s going to be no food on the plane,'” Stevens recounted. “He walks onto the plane, and I say, ‘Evan, I didn’t say that.’ And he goes, ‘I know.’ We had food on the plane.”
Stevens’ story two years later corroborates with his remarks immediately following the Magic game.
“At halftime, I was really disappointed with how we finished off the half, so I used a couple of adjectives I don’t normally use,” he said in 2015. “But I certainly never said anything about snacks and food on the plane, because I like the snacks and food on the plane. I would never do that.”
From the plane, Brad Stevens forcefully and vehemently denies Evan Turner's allegation that there would be no food on the plane. #CaterGate
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) March 14, 2015
When asked about Turner’s brief tenure in Boston and how it influenced his player development, Stevens said he felt that the organization effectively channeled his eagerness.
“For Evan, we felt like we had a guy that was hungry. He was a great worker. He had a great attitude. And he was great with the ball,” Stevens explained. “So we gave him the ball. We played more with him as a point guard, or a post player, than maybe an off-the-ball shooter. But I think you try to do that with all your players. Sometimes it works great and sometimes it’s not quite as effective.”
“Everybody is in the NBA for a reason,” he continued. “They have a special talent. They have a special ability. Sometimes people get put in a box of what they can’t do, instead of focusing on what they can. Our jobs are taking the 15 guys on the team, focusing on what they do best, and helping them soar with what they do best.”