Over the weekend, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that when Indiana University was searching for its new head coach, it made a generous offer to Celtics coach Brad Stevens: A seven-year, $70-million deal.
In a competitive, tempestuous career like basketball coaching, any lucrative long-term offer would seemingly be compelling.
Stevens, however, never expressed interest in the job and repeatedly said publicly that he had no intention of leaving Boston. On Monday, prior to the Celtics’ game against the Chicago Bulls, he was asked about the offer Wojnarowski reported.
“First of all I was never offered a package,” Stevens said. “That’s all news to me.”
Stevens went on to once again reiterate all the reasons he had no intention of leaving for Indiana. He said he feels indebted to “this place” which he said has been great to his family. He added that he feels a responsibility to stay with the organization through a trying season.
“It’s right in the middle of a pandemic,” Stevens said. “We owe them to stay the course.
“I don’t know how long I’m going to coach, I don’t know how long I’m going to coach in the NBA, or how long they’ll want me to coach in the NBA. I don’t know what I’ll do after that. Maybe I’ll figure out something new. But right now, I’m thrilled to be the Celtics head coach. It’s a great challenge and a great responsibility. Try to minimize all the distractions and move around that.”
Stevens became the Celtics’ coach in 2013 after Doc Rivers departed alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. After a losing season in his first year, Stevens and the Celtics have yet to miss the postseason and have reached the Eastern Conference finals three times.
When rumors began to swirl about Indiana, Stevens tried to quash them while expressing how much interest from the biggest university in his basketball-crazed home state meant to him.
“It means a lot,” Stevens said at the time. “Listen, I’ve got a lot of friends back there. I’ve got a lot of people that are really important to me there. My dad’s still there. That does mean a lot. I won’t act like that doesn’t. Like I said earlier today, it’s flattering.”
Still: “I’m not a kid anymore, I’m a 44-year-old Masshole,” Stevens said at the time. “I swerve around others when I’m driving, I eat Dunkin’ Donuts and I root for the Patriots. I’ve, unfortunately, been skewed in a lot of ways I guess.”
On Monday, Stevens repeated himself unequivocally about the reported offer.
“I was never offered that,” he said. “I don’t know where that came from.”
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