Back when he was still at Butler in 2009, Stevens heard Rivers at a coaching clinic. Rivers used a phrase — “Believe or leave” — that stuck with him and has been apparent in the way he coaches these Celtics.
“I think you have to give a coach like that a lot of credit for getting a young team like that to be so hungry,” Warriors guard Andre Iguodala told Sporting News last month. “They don’t have all the big names, but they just have got to continue to jell and continue to grow with one another. They had some adversity, but it seems like they lined up behind their coach, and that is a good start.”
Hubie Brown, now an ESPN analyst, won 50 games and a Coach of the Year Award in Memphis in 2003-04 by using a 10-man rotation, leading the Grizzlies to their first-ever playoff appearance.
“It is not an easy thing to do,” Brown told Sporting News. “I think what you like about what Brad Stevens is doing is, he is getting them to buy into it. I had to do that, I know it is not easy. But if you can do it, what you’re doing is you’re getting your starting five out there, and you’re developing them, and then you’re giving your next five a chance to go out and develop themselves, too.
“They have a role and they’re accountable, because they could lose that role. If you can create that accountability, that where you are now able to step up and coach them. It’s not just, you convince them to try hard. You can get five guys from anywhere and talk them into trying. You have to coach them, and he has done that.”
“We didn’t put a timeline on ourselves because I am not sure I would have known how long it is supposed to take,” he said. “We just tried to coach every day and coach whoever was in the building, which changed quite often, and look at that as a great opportunity to get as many guys in here to recognize how committed we are to each and every one of them.”
“We have to play better basketball,” Stevens said. “We have to play better on both ends. I told the guys in there — I apologize to the person that originally said this line — but when considering the consequences of not doing the little things, you realize there are no little things. That applies to us right now.”