Brad Stevens has never had a problem communicating effectively with his team.
But these are different times we live in now.
Following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last week, well aware of its impact on the African American community — which includes the overwhelming majority of his players — Stevens knew he had to do something, say something to them.
He said he penned a letter to his players over the weekend, but admits it wasn’t easy.
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“It took me a while to put down exactly what I wanted to say,” Stevens said.
That’s because that letter, this moment, what’s happening throughout the world right now, is bigger than anything these players and coaches have been a part of.
There’s a level of pain and frustration felt by many, something that Stevens wanted to relay to his players but still be sensitive to the fact that his African-American players were dealing with a much deeper wound than most in light of recent events.
"The pain has been there a long time," Stevens said. "The lack of progress is too jarring. We all need to do our part."
Stevens added, “The thing that I wanted them to know is that every decent person is hurting. Every decent person feels the pain of the African-American community. But I also don’t want to pretend that I know the exact distinct pain. So, what I wanted them to know is I’m with them. I thought that was really important.”
And it is that kind of support that has stood out on a number of levels when it comes to the protests nationally that are designed to raise awareness to the need for systemic change following Floyd’s death while in custody of now ex-police officer Derek Chauvin.
Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to help lead a peaceful protest in his home state of Georgia. Marcus Smart, Vincent Poirier and Enes Kanter all participated in the protest march in Boston on Sunday.
“It’s so great to see so many guys active,” Stevens said. “The leadership that they have shown is terrific.”
And the support of the Celtics organization for its players has not gone unnoticed by the players, either.
I had a chance to walk with Marcus Smart, who was among the Celtics participating in protests over the weekend.
One of the things Smart was most proud of was how his efforts to raise awareness to some of the societal issues of the moment as well as the efforts of his teammates had the backing of the organization.
“For the Celtics to take a stand and support what we do, it shows how much this organization cares about its players and cares about the right thing to do,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston.