Hayward and Stevens reunite for their first All-Star appearances

Hayward and Stevens reunite for their first All-Star appearances

NEW ORLEANS –  For years, Gordon Hayward dreamed of this day, of being able to step on the floor and be among the top players in the NBA.

But in all those scenarios that raced through his mind, the idea that his first journey towards official stardom in the NBA – being named an all-star – would come at the same time that Brad Stevens would make his all-star coaching debut too?

“It’s really cool,” Hayward said. “If I were to sit here and say we’d both be at this position seven years ago, eight years ago when I was sitting down with him for a recruiting visit, there’s no way I would have believed you. It’s pretty special that we’re both here.”

Indeed, both Stevens and Hayward have arrived by taking somewhat atypical journeys. 

For Hayward, his emergence during the NCAA Tournament showcased a big-time talent at a mid-major schools whose skills, in the eyes of many, could translate well at the next level. 

“None of us knew how good Gordon could be at this level,” an NBA scout told CSNNE.com about Hayward. “But he was more athletic than we thought after working him out. And you knew he could shoot, but he can handle the ball a little better, too. And that’s how a lot of us saw him; a good player who had some things going for him early that probably translated better at this level than the average fan might realize.”

Stevens, who led Butler to a pair of national runner-up finishes, recruited Hayward at a time when he was a highly regarded tennis prospect.

He was good enough to where there was a point when Hayward thought about giving up basketball altogether to focus solely on playing tennis. 

“In high school, I was 5-foot-10 as a freshman and I wanted to play a college sport,” Hayward said. “There’s not too many 5-10 basketball players that make it, let alone play college but then make it to the NBA. I thought I might have a better chance at playing tennis in college. That’s when I almost decided to go with this full-time.”

Hayward was in the middle of working on a speech to tell his high school basketball coach that he was going to quit the team to focus on tennis full-time. 

And then he had what turned into a life-changing conversation with his mother. 

“I came up to her, and was talking to her about it. And when I was going to do it, she told me to stick out the year,” Hayward recalled.

She reminded him of all the time he put in to become a better basketball player, and why he wouldn’t want to just throw all that to the side for a sport that they both knew he loved. 

“I hit a growth spurt at the end of the year, and gradually got better and better,” he said. 

That growth, both in terms of his game and the attention that came with that improvement, has led him to being an NBA all-star, an undeniable acknowledgement that he is among the best in the NBA. And making it all that much sweeter is that he’s getting to enjoy it for the first time with Stevens, a man whose role in Hayward’s life and ascension to this point should not be understated. While Hayward acknowledges the role Stevens played in his steady improvement as a player, the role Stevens played in his life was even more significant in his growth as a person. 

The two don’t talk nearly as often as they did during their Butler days or shortly after Hayward was off to the NBA and Stevens was still in the college ranks. 

But there is an undeniable bond that will forever link these two with one another, a bond that becomes all that much tighter with them making the unlikely journey from being more than just big-time talents at the mid-major level. They are now among the best in their respective roles, achieving the kind of success so few believed was possible a few years ago. 

While Stevens acknowledges how unique and cool it is to be here with Hayward, he quickly shifts the focus to what he has always believed to be the keys to success: team and player, in that order.

“For him to get a chance to be among the elite players in the game is a special opportunity that was earned,” Stevens said. “It’s earned with your individual success and what your team is able to do. Their team is having such great success. I’m happy that he gets a chance to experience this, and that they look like a team that’s going to make a deep run in the playoffs.”

To hear those words is not at all surprising to Hayward. 

“He’s such a good coach and such a great guy and mentor to me,” Hayward said. “I’m happy we’re here.”

Celtics should get word Friday on Irving's status

Celtics should get word Friday on Irving's status

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving has had a second opinion on his sore left knee, and a decision on what the next step will be is expected to be made within the next day or two, according to a league source.

 The medical officials involved in the initial evaluation will meet with those who examined him today, to compare notes and determine what’s in the best interest of Irving going forward.

 While surgery is a possibility, the source indicated that the current course of treatment, which consists primarily of rest, remains a consideration. 
The concerns regarding Irving’s knee are to be of the short-term variety, with the source indicating reports that there are long-term concerns with the knee are “just wrong.” 

 In his first season with the Celtics, Irving has appeared in 60 games in what has been one of his most efficient seasons as a scorer. 
He’s averaging 24.4 points per game while shooting a career-high 49.1 percent from the field. The five-time all-star is shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range this season in addition to dishing out 5.1 assists along with grabbing a career-high 3.8 rebounds.


Celtics assistant McCarty to become coach at Evansville

AP Photo

Celtics assistant McCarty to become coach at Evansville

BOSTON – The first member of the Brad Stevens’ coaching tree is about to take off. Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty is expected to be named head coach at Evansville University.

McCarty, an Evansville, Ind. native, was selected over a field of candidates that included former Indiana University standout Calbert Cheaney and David Ragland who, like McCarty, is an Evansville native.

The 6-foot-10 McCarty, a 10-year NBA veteran with seven-plus spent with the Celtics, has been part of Stevens’ coaching staff since 2013. The former Celtic has been a college assistant coach at Louisville (2007-2010) in addition to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers (2010-2011).