When Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens was a student at DePauw University, his girlfriend and future wife, Tracy, played for the women’s soccer team.
“I went [to the games] because I liked soccer, and by the time we were dating our junior and senior year, I went because I had to,” Stevens quipped.
Brad and Tracy Stevens’s love for the sport has endured. In 2019, they even took their children, Brady and Kinsley, to the Women’s World Cup in France. Now, they are hoping to help reignite the popularity of women’s soccer locally. The couple have become minority investors in Boston’s National Women’s Soccer League expansion team that is set to begin play in 2026.
“It’s cool to be kind of on that ground floor,” Stevens said. “We’re very small with regard to our own investor status, but we’re certainly thrilled to help in any way, whether it’s the board as they’re building up a soccer operations group, or looking at recruiting coaches or players down the road.
“Whatever the case may be, we want to help in whatever way we can.”
Controlling partner Jennifer Epstein, the daughter of Celtics minority owner Bob Epstein, reached out to Brad and Tracy about having a role with the club. Brad’s responsibilities with the Celtics will likely minimize his connection to the soccer team, but he said Tracy will be more hands-on.
“I’m just here if they need me to show up at something, or if they want to ask how we go about things like sports science or coaching, whatever the case may be,” Stevens said. “Anything we can answer that may be a crossover, we’re happy to help with.”
▪ When Stevens and I chatted over the phone Wednesday afternoon, it was hard to hear him over the yelling and squeaking sneakers at the Auerbach Center. He was watching another offseason workout and sounded upbeat about the start of training camp, which is less than two weeks away.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “The gym has been really, really full for the better part of the last three weeks or so. It’s been a great lead-up and the new coaches have done a great job. The players have been really active.”
▪ The Celtics’ social media team has posted plenty of pictures and videos of these workouts and players’ Boston arrivals. But there has been no sign of guard Malcolm Brogdon.
Brogdon, of course, was hampered by a forearm strain during the conference finals last season. Then in June he was part of the first iteration of the Kristaps Porzingis trade before that deal crumbled and Marcus Smart ended up in the three-team transaction instead.
Brogdon and his camp have been quiet this summer, and members of the Celtics front office have mostly avoided or deflected questions about the Sixth Man of the Year. Something about the situation just feels slightly off.
But the indications I’ve gotten are that the Celtics are not considering trading Brogdon any more than they are considering trading any other player. His sour ending to last year aside, it is worth remembering Brogdon’s value to the Celtics last year. And Smart’s departure figures to only increase his role.
Media day is scheduled for Oct. 2, so there will at least be some clarity then.
▪ Porzingis, the team’s splashy offseason acquisition, arrived in Boston Wednesday. Porzingis missed Latvia’s World Cup appearance because of plantar fasciitis but stayed with the team in the Philippines for support.
He has been doing some light on-court work as he ramps up for training camp.
Celtics guard Payton Pritchard, for one, is excited about the possibilities.
“I think he’s an unbelievable player who is obviously really tall and can affect the game in a whole different way that we haven’t had, with his ability to shoot and put it on the floor and attack those mismatches,” Pritchard said. “So I’m looking forward to playing with him, and it’s going to be good.”
▪ Last month Pritchard teamed up with former Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas at a Vancouver Pro-Am game. Even though Pritchard is nearly 10 years younger than Thomas, he has looked up to him as a fellow undersized point guard from the Pacific Northwest.
“When I was growing up, he was a killer on the court,” Pritchard said.
He said they have known each other for some time but had never played on the same team before the Vancouver event. He said it was a special experience and added that he remains in awe of Thomas’s accomplishments as a Celtic.
“It was unreal,” Pritchard said. “It’s somebody that at his size did some things here that were remarkable. So to be top five in MVP, Mr. Fourth Quarter, what he was doing, the city will always remember. He’ll always be a legend.”
▪ Smart may have been traded to the Grizzlies, but his connection to the Celtics certainly remains strong. A huge Boston contingent attended Smart’s wedding in California last week, including Stevens and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck.
▪ Celtics legend Bill Russell was part of ABC’s coverage of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Russell’s son, Jacob, accompanied him for part of the trip, and recalled one breakfast with other members of the network’s broadcast team.
“We’re sitting there with Brent Musburger, Frank Gifford, and O.J. Simpson,” Jacob recalled. “People kept coming over to my father and asking for his autograph, and nobody ever asked O.J. or Frank for theirs. And after a while O.J. became upset. He said, ‘What is going on here, Russ?’ And my father just says, ‘O.J., you’re looking at a living legend.’ ”