Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“Brad’s never had that talk with me, but since I first met him it’s been we want you to do what you’ve done your whole life,” he said. “That’s score the ball, make plays, try to make the right play every time down. To have a coach in your corner, especially on this level, is all you can ask for. Guys dream of having a coach behind you as much as coach has been behind me.”
Perhaps Stevens never pulled Thomas aside for that talk, but he recognized the unique nature of Thomas’ game from the start.
“No question about it that he’s very unique,” said Stevens. “He’s gotten better at a lot of the things he needed to get better at, but he’s always been able to do things scoring the ball that other players can’t do. He’s getting better as a playmaker. He’s always had it, always been able to do it, and sometimes that’s just recognizing the team and what they need.
“You hope with every player you get, you look at what they can do and not what the things they have to manage are,” said Stevens. “My first boss at Butler always talked about soaring with your strengths and managing everything else. We not only try to do that with individuals but as a team.”
Thomas had a fanboy-like moment last night when he crossed paths with his basketball idol Allen Iverson, who was recently named a finalist for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
And as he conversed with Iverson, arguably the greatest player under 6-feet to play, that’s when it hit Thomas.
I’m an All-Star.
The two talked for about 10 or 15 minutes, with Iverson doing much of the talking.
“He said how much he loves my game,” Thomas said. “He said he watches all my games. For somebody to say that like him, pound for pound the best player ever, that was unbelievable.”
And while it’s not all that unusual for players to compliment Thomas on his game – especially now that he is an All-Star, he said the praise from Iverson was different.
“He wasn’t just saying it,” said Thomas. “He was saying the moves that I was doing, and me being left-handed and things like that. I knew it was real genuine.”
“He’s been running around, smiling like a little kid,” said Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, a former teammate of Thomas’ with the Kings. “I know he’s been working for this. I’m extremely happy for him. I’m glad he reached one of his goals.”
But Thomas will be the first to tell you that he’s content with how things are playing out now in his basketball life, but he’s far from satisfied.
And with all due respect, that train of thought brings us back to All Star Weekend, and the best possible present day answer to “Who are the Boston Celtics?”. It goes back to that same old NBA story about the best player always winning, and a league where every team is defined, in one way or another, by their best player.
And in this case, it’s pretty perfect.
Who are the Boston Celtics?
They’re not just Isaiah Thomas’ team.
They’re Isaiah Thomas.
They’re undersized. They’re streaky. They’re scrappy. They’ll climb a mountain and beat you over the head with sheer will. They’re the ultimate underdog with the fight of rabid hippo. They’re constantly strapped with limits based on physical shortcomings that they simply choose to ignore. Then they exceed those limits, and defy those expectations, just in time for the goal line to move; for everyone to draw up a new batch of things that they’ll never accomplish — right up until they do.
Even a crusty and hardened All Star cynic like myself can’t help but enjoy the attitude that Isaiah Thomas has brought to this event. I mean we’re not quite talking John Scott-at-the-NHL-All-Star game level awesome, but it’s fantastic story and a reminder that getting to an event like this is a dream come true for some guys–and that some guys can bring a contagious level of enthusiasm to it. Heck, I might even watch the game this year (although I think Ty Lue is going to gradually turn heel–and if he gives IT token minutes he’ll be well on the way)
Page 2: The secretary of the Brad Stevens Fan Club speaks out
Pop talking about Brad Stevens is always good pic.twitter.com/uPtiTh1iOa
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) February 12, 2016
Nobody gets more out of their players than Brad Stevens. Nobody. Now stop for a minute and think about how Stevens coaches them, versus the stereotypical basketball coach. Stevens isn’t trying to force players to fit into a “system.” (cough–TRIANGLE-cough), he’s not a master of the motivational speech or gesture (think Doc Rivers hiding money at the Staples Center). He’s not a screamer. He’s not a weasel (oh Hai Mark).
Maybe–just maybe–you get more out of players by treating them like adults and clearly explaining what you expect from them and what they need to work on.
Finally: Kelly Olynyk talks to other Canadians about Canada…. and basketball.
Believe it or not, Olynyk was invited to participate in the 3-point contest after Chris Bosh
rushed back to his home planet to broker a peace agreement strained his calf. He turned the NBA down to nurse his bruised shoulder with expectations he’ll be able to play next Friday vs. Utah.
But he did sit down and chat with TSN (Canada’s ESPN) about the rise of Canadian basketball.