BOSTON — Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge suffered a mild heart attack Tuesday in Milwaukee but received immediate medical attention and is expected to make a full recovery.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens informed players of Ainge’s medical scare before Thursday’s practice and said Ainge is feeling better and resting in Milwaukee. The team expects him to travel back to Boston soon.
"Been in constant communication with his family. He’s resting well and feels better,” said Stevens. "Obviously, always scary but he’s got a good support network. Obviously, expect a full recovery and he’s feeling good. So that’s all positive. Certainly scary.”
The news comes as the Celtics prepare for a critical Game 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks, but Stevens admitted it offered a dose of perspective.
"I think that this is much bigger than basketball so Game 3 is Game 3,” said Stevens. “Obviously you always want to play your best at this time of year, obviously he really cares about the result, we all really care about the result, but this is a game. That’s what it is.”
Ainge, who turned 60 in March, suffered a mild heart attack in April 2009, spending a few days of recovery at Massachusetts General Hospital before being released.
The team was tight-lipped with details about the incident on Tuesday, at the request of the Ainge family, with Stevens simply noting it happened before Game 2, but that Ainge was fortunate to have doctors around to attend to him. Players seemed unaware of the issue until Thursday.
"Very scary. I just found out today,” said Jayson Tatum. "I heard he’s doing well. I’m going to reach out to him after practice.
Echoed Marcus Smart: “We just heard about it before practice, but I’m going to give him a call and see how he’s doing and how everybody else is. If Danny was here, he’d want us focusing on being ready. So we’re still trying to stay focused.”
Still, players acknowledged that Ainge was on their minds.
"What he's going through is more important than any game we are playing,” said Tatum. "He’s doing better and I know he wants us to go out and compete. Game 3 is important to us and very important to him and everyone in our organization.”
Echoed Smart: "The concern is what it would be for anybody. Anything serious that you’re dealing with your health is something that is real concerning. But he has great help and doctors are going to take great care of him. They said he’s resting now and he’s going to make a full recovery. He’s got to get his rest and continue to recover.”
Smart, the longest-tenured Celtics player, who has one of the tightest bonds with Ainge, is rooting for a quick recovery.
"Danny is just one of those guys who takes time out of his life, his day when he’s doing his schedule to make sure you’re all right,” said Smart. "He constantly checks in on us, my family, and things like that. Just personally for me he’s been another mentor for me. From when I first got here Danny was the person I see every day and am talking to, so he means a lot to my life as well. So like I said, I just hope he has a speedy recovery.”
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