Former Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge took a position with the Utah Jazz yesterday. His title will be “alternate governor and SEO” and after just a few months of retirement, Ainge is back in the game in a new city.
Almost immediately after the reports came out, speculation started flying. A quote from Ainge saying that he “needed a break from Boston” took off and with it, another rumor saying he was forced out did as well.
Current Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens took a few moments to quell some of those rumors this morning when he hopped on 98.5 The SportsHub’s Toucher & Rich:
“If that’s at the top of Google, it must be true,” Stevens joked. “No, I would say that I was here for that entire sequence of events, and he let everybody know that he was stepping away and wanted to step away to have a chance to spend more time with his family, to rejuvenate, and then figure out what’s next in life… People can write what they want, but it’s not true.”
Stevens also noted that Ainge let the organization know this “two months before it was announced.” The news that Ainge was retiring came as a shock to most fans, as it was just one day after the C’s were eliminated from the playoffs.
Evidently, Ainge couldn’t stay away from the game he loves. Stevens noted that he’s been doing nothing but watching basketball for the past couple of weeks and it’s tough to keep someone like Ainge out of the game for too long:
“I had heard in the last couple of weeks that he was getting a little antsy. And so, I anticipate him being in a role, but I didn’t know what they’d ultimately call it… He’s just stayed in touch with it since the season started. I’m not surprised that he took a position and it sounds like he’s going to have that role he’s been looking for.”
That being said, there was no indication that Ainge was forced out when he retired. Based on everything that had been said, he simply needed to take time away from the game and was looking for a perfect fit:
“But I truly think that he didn’t know. When he left, I got the impression that he — this is a stressful job, this is a hard job. That and coaching, it can wear on you. So to take care of yourself and make sure you know when to recharge and rejuvenate is really important… He was pretty open-minded, but the narrative that he was forced out is absolutely not true.”
A lot of Celtics fans are disappointed to see Ainge in another city. Ainge was a Celtic for nearly three decades of his life as a player and in the front office. He built a connection to the city, and the city built a connection with him.
However, as much as it stings to see Ainge join another team, Stevens made sure to numb the pain a bit. When asked about whether or not it’s too difficult to work in a city as harsh as Boston, he made sure to let fans know how much they are appreciated:
“My kids have loved living here, my wife’s loved living here, and I have. So I don’t get too caught up in the other stuff. I’ve always looked at it as all positives. Our fans are great, it’s a fun place to coach, people care about it. I don’t know what else you could ask for.”