Potential is a sly word, as it’s just a nice way to say someone hasn’t done anything yet. It’s a label we attach to people and things that we believe will be able to achieve a certain level of success. Potential is great to have until you don’t do anything with it.
Hi, Brad Stevens.
According to multiple reports, Stevens is out in Boston as their head coach and will move to the front office, as longtime General Manager – and Celtics legend – Danny Ainge is retiring. The often-maligned Ainge is sliding out the back door while Stevens is moving to a nice cushy office position.
“I’m grateful to ownership and to Danny for trusting me with this opportunity,” Stevens said in a team statement. “I’m excited to tackle this new role, starting with a wide-ranging and comprehensive search for our next head coach.”
White men always fail up.
When Ainge hired Stevens to replace Doc Rivers in 2013 he was the latest wunderkind in the coaching world. After leading Butler to back-to-back national championship games – he lost both – Stevens was instantly deemed the next “great white hope.” For a while, the tag worked. Rumors have swirled for years that he should be the one to take over for Coach K at Duke, and earlier this year we found out that Indiana was prepared to offer him a seven-year $70 million contract to take over their program. And while Stevens’ job was never in any real jeopardy in Boston, things just never seemed to go his way when he needed them to. Outside of missing the playoffs in his first season, the Celtics reached the postseason every year after that, including three trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. But, when you have “potential,” one of those ECF appearances is supposed to turn into a trip to the Finals, and it never did.
Similarly, Ainge was “potentially” supposed to land a big-time free agent to help Stevens, but never did. Never forget that Paul Pierce was ready to leave Boston before Ainge was able to get Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. But, besides that, all of Boston’s luck under Ainge was due to the draft, not his ability to sign free agents. Over the years, names like Chris Paul, Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and Paul George were all rumored to be top targets for the Celtics. Ainge bombed as he stockpiled draft picks that turned into wasted leverage
The Celtics’ current stars – Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum – were both selected third overall in consecutive years as the All-Star forwards luckily fell into Ainge’s lap. But, that’s where the luck ended, as Kemba Walker has been hurt for the majority of his time with the Celtics, and the Gordon Hayward situation was another disaster due to a gruesome injury.
And then there was Kyrie Irving. A person that, unfairly, received so much of the blame for what has taken place in Boston.
Last week, Ainge – a white dude from Oregon that played at BYU – felt his “expertise” was needed on the subject of racism after Irving made comments about how racist Boston is. Celtics fans proved Irving right as he had a water bottle thrown at him from the stands in Game 4 of the Nets first-round series with the Celtics, as he dropped 39 points on his former team and appeared to stomp on the Celtics logo at half court.
With a head coaching vacancy to fill for one of the most historic franchises in sports, in a city that has a long history of hating Black people, in a league that’s approximately 80 percent Black, the Celtics need to make sure they pick the right man…or woman – and they need to be Black. It would be a smart decision, and the numbers prove it.
The Celtics have had four Black coaches in franchise history in Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, M.L. Carr, and Rivers. Besides Carr, all of them have won championships. Here’s how their winning percentages for the regular season and postseason (RP / PS) stack up:
- Bill Russell – 66.1 percent / 60.9 percent
- KC Jones – 75.1 percent / 63.7 percent
- M.L. Carr – 29.3 percent / N/A
- Doc Rivers – 58.6 percent / 57 percent
Now, let’s compare that to Stevens:
- Brad Stevens – 55. 7 percent / 48.7 percent
Numbers never lie.
Outside of the optics and public relations relief that would come from hiring a Black coach in Boston at this particular moment, Black coaches have proven that they can get the job done in that town. And according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce are expected to be candidates for the position. Diversity has always been good for business…and winning. And if the Celtics want to win, then a Black person should be hired. Besides, proven products are always better than “potential” ones.