Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens plans to forego the rest of the 2015 NBA season and accept a job as the University of Texas head basketball coach.
Stevens, who has the Boston Celtics in a fight for the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, previously coached at Butler University, where he led the Bulldogs to back-to-back Final Fours in 2010 and 2011. When asked about the Texas job, Stevens was open about why he was leaving the NBA.
"I've enjoyed my time in Boston," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "But when a position at a historic program like Texas opens up, that's too good to pass up."
The new Longhorns coach plans to sign a deal worth $150 million over 15 years. He says he originally planned on taking the Texas job two years ago. A simple communication error blocked Stevens from the job he has coveted since he was a small child.
"I remember when (Celtics general manager) Danny Ainge called me and said, we'd love to have you in Boston," Stevens said. "I said, absolutely. I love Austin. When can you fly me down there? It actually wasn't until we landed at Logan International and I looked out the window and saw the snowy, desolate landscape of the northeast that I realized my mistake."
Texas athletic director Steve Patterson believes the hire will do wonders for the Texas athletic department's bottom line.
"I had a lot of missed calls from important Texas boosters in my voicemail," Patterson said, laughing. "My inbox was filled with Texas Exes. After I deleted those, I found a voicemail from my accountant. He said this move made the most sense, long term. So we did it."
The "home run hire" wasn't well received by everyone. Red McCombs, a longtime Texas booster, expressed his disappointment when reached for comment.
"I don't dislike Brad Stevens," McCombs explained. "I just don't see him as the head basketball coach at Texas. Assistant coach? Maybe. Position coach? Yeah, I wouldn't argue with that. But I don't think he is ready for a big-time program like Texas."
McCombs has been vocal about hiring the WoodenBot, a scientific prototype still in its experimental phase, meant to mirror and recreate the coaching style and personality of John Wooden. McCombs wouldn't comment on the machine, but did say he believed there were better options out there.
Stevens, who plans to be in Austin by Thursday afternoon, says he almost can't contain his excitement for his new coaching job.
"When you reach the pinnacle in your profession, like coaching basketball in the Frank Erwin Center at Texas, you might get a little complacent. I don't plan on doing that."
Boston Celtics management said they were disappointed in Stevens' decision to leave, but understood why he had to go.
"I mean, what are you going to do? It's Texas," said Ainge. "All teams need a contingency plan for when Texas comes calling."
As he was leaving the Celtics media room Wednesday morning, thanking members of the Boston media, some with tear-filled eyes, he grinned and waved.
"Happy April 1st, everyone."