Everybody loves to be an armchair GM. Whether it’s on NBA2K or Twitter, it’s fun putting together fake trades and arguing about who the Celtics should sign with their cap space. Ultimately though, those real life decisions come down to one person: Danny Ainge. After taking the job back in 2003, he’s presided over Banner 17 and two masterful rebuilds and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Ainge sat down with The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett for a wide-ranging interview that included his playing days, the day-to-day grind of the job, and what he does when he’s not running the franchise. Here’s a snippet:
“I really love doing what I’m doing. I guess I’ve never felt like I was close to leaving. But I know that there’s a time when they’ll be tired of me -- they probably already are tired of me. But I’m havin’ a blast. I love it.
”I love doing what I’m doing, and I feel like working with the people that I work with is a lot of fun. We get along great, and I think it’s just really unique in the NBA and in professional sports, for that matter, to have the relationships that we’re talking about between ownership, coaches, players, management, and I feel like it’s just a really unique situation and I’m having a lot of fun doing it.”
What really comes across in Bulpett’s piece is Ainge’s love for the team that he’s put together in Boston. From the players to the coaching staff to his front office to the medical staff to the owners, it’s the people that keeps him motivated and engaged.
What doesn’t get mentioned enough is how much the latest incarnation of the Celtics mirrors who Ainge was as a player. Complementing the front line Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and Robert Parish, Ainge was the spunky soul of those 80’s championship teams and that spirit has been echoed in players like Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Unfortunately, basketball is a business and in many instances, he’s had to revert back to his ultra competitive nature and make tough decisions on players he’s loved like Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas.
When you hear Ainge say things like “it’s overwhelming at times. But I really like our players. You can tell that when you talk to me. I love being around them” or “I love the people I work with. If I didn’t love the people I work with, I’m not doing this,” you truly get a sense of how difficult his job is (and how emotional it can get when the ultimate decision comes across his desk).