BOSTON — On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics front office flew to Indianapolis to finalize a six-year, $22 million deal to make Butler University’s Brad Stevens, 36, the youngest coach in the NBA, but a forgotten permission slip needed from Stevens’ parents almost blew up the deal.
“Bradley leaves his whistle and clipboard on the kitchen table with anything we need to sign,” said Steven’s mother, Jan, a college professor. “I was out of town at a conference, and his father works all hours at the hospital. I guess we just missed it!”
Stevens, whose favorite cereal is Lucky Charms, recalled with a chuckle the morning he woke up to find the unsigned permission slip. “I went to put it in my backpack, and then I was like, ‘Mom? Is anybody home!’ I should have known they were gone because they left me pizza money.”
Celtics President Danny Ainge knew the bright young coach could handle the unexpected situation. “Bradley went right over to his neighbor’s house to call me, just like we talked about.” Ainge then faxed the permission slip to Stevens’ parents himself, and the deal was made official.
To help prepare their son for away games, Stevens’ parents let him fly solo to his official press conference in Boston. “I was a little nervous because my ears always pop when we go up in the air,” said a bashful Stevens, “but the flight attendants were nice to me, and they even let me visit the cockpit.”
Stevens beamed with pride at the press conference, saying he is “absolutely humbled” by the opportunity to coach such a storied franchise. “I’ve been a Celtics fan since they won the championship a couple of years ago against the Lakers. My dad let me stay up late to watch all of the games.”
Stevens’ move to the NBA comes on the heels of one of the most successful coaching careers in NCAA history, a six-year run that included back-to-back National Championship appearances and a Division I-record 166 wins. But history has proven that college success does not always translate to the NBA. When asked how he will respond to the challenge of coaching at the highest level, Stevens lifted the collar of his shirt and flashed his trademark smile. “Look at this! I learned to tie my tie on YouTube. Mr. Ainge said I’m in the NBA now, so I can’t wear a clip-on anymore.”