The inside story on Celtics’ meeting with Kevin Durant
You saw the photograph of Tom Brady walking with Celtic folks Danny Ainge, Steve Pagliuca, Kelly Olynyk, and Marcus Smart in the Hamptons last Saturday. You heard about TB12 assisting the Celtics in their recruiting trip to Kevin Durant’s place on Long Island. You know the Celtics did not land the big fish, but you’re curious how all this went down.
Now the story can be told. According to Ainge, who spoke with the Globe from Utah Thursday morning, this is how the holiday weekend sports summit in the Hamptons unfolded:
“Tom and I are close. We’ve talked many times before. So I called Tom and talked with him and exchanged texts in preparation for our meeting with KD Saturday. Tom only had one day off in Boston. He’d been with his family in Costa Rica and we’d been exchanging messages while he was there. On Friday, July 1, he got back into town and I said, ‘I think we have a meeting with KD, can you come with us?’ and he said he wasn’t sure. Finally he said, ‘Yeah, I can do it. That would be fun.’
“First we were in Atlanta with [Al] Horford. On Saturday morning, some of us went from Atlanta to the Hamptons and some of us went from Atlanta to Boston. Private planes. We had one plane to go to Hanscom [in Bedford, Mass.] to pick up Tom. That one had Wyc [Grousbeck], Pags, and me. When we got to Hanscom, we picked up Tom and Marcus Smart. From there we flew to the Hamptons, where our other group was waiting. Kelly and Brad [Stevens] and Isaiah [Thomas] and Jae [Crowder] had gone straight to the Hamptons.
“So before our meeting with KD, we all went to lunch with Tom. I think it was just as much fun for all of us to be around Tom Brady and just talk to him. Our players were really infatuated and excited to meet with Tom Brady and just talk to him about fitness and training at his age and how he stays so healthy. There was a lot of discussion about that over lunch. It was fun listening to Tom teach our young guys.
“We went from lunch to KD’s place. KD had arranged for us to be at a house he must have rented for those few days he was there. We got there around 4 o’clock. I think he had already met with Oklahoma City, Golden State, and the Clippers. I think we were the fourth team to meet him. We spent approximately three hours with him.
“First Tom and Kevin greeted each other. They had met each other before. Tom’s a big fan of KD’s. Then we sat down fairly quickly and got down to business. Tom talked a little bit about the Celtics and Boston and what it’s like as a city and how they embrace sports.
“After we talked for a while, the players all went and talked among themselves. Tom, Kevin, and all of our players. They went off to talk without any of us or any agents or representatives from the team. It was just our players and KD and Tom, talking and asking questions. Maybe they had questions about us, maybe they had questions about Brad. I don’t have any idea what was discussed among the players. That went on for about 45 minutes while we sat inside just shooting the breeze asking questions to one another in the house.
“After that, the players came back and sat down and we had more discussions about Boston and what’s good about it. We went back to our sales pitch. KD had a few questions. He was obviously well-prepared and well-schooled and very knowledgable about everything Boston, which was very impressive.
“After that, all the players, including our players and Tom, were dismissed. They went to the airport. Tom flew back with all of our players, an hour and a half before we did. Then it was just Brad, Steve, Wyc, and myself with KD and his agent, his father, and one more friend of his. We just talked basketball for an hour and a half. We talked about how we’d utilize him. We had some videos. Brad did a magnificent job in his presentation and just talking basketball. I think it went really well, and when we left that meeting we felt we were in legitimate contention to get him.
“We went from not thinking we had a great shot to all of us believing that we did have a chance. We did allow ourselves over the next 48 hours to really believe that there was a good chance that we could get him.
“KD called me to tell me early Monday. We had a good conversation and sort of verified what we all thought. He said it was a really hard call for him and that he was impressed with our organization and what we had to offer. I think it was all very positive and I wished him well.
“It’s hard to know for sure what kind of impact Tom had on things. Obviously it was beneficial for us and I think for sure it was great for our players. It was fun to be around Tom. I think it had some impact on KD for sure, but how much, I don’t know. You could tell there was a great deal of mutual respect. Tom did a great job for us and we’re very grateful, regardless of the outcome. It was a good experience for us.’’