Boston is a sports family and like any good family, support is always there from its leaders.
The “City of Champions” has world-class coaches and managers and they are generous with each other.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has spent time with them all and loves to pick their brains.
“I learned a lot more from them than they could’ve learned from me,” says Stevens.
He has attended Patriots training camps, OTAs, and team meetings and has taken notes. He has met with coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels numerous times.
He has learned the finer points about “Do Your Job” and to how to meticulously prepare and practice every detail to win.
“Just every little thing that goes into it from Bill’s standpoint. Like taking care of the controllables to winning. I mean you know those things but the difference is that they do them,” he says. “They do them every day and it’s clearly a huge intent to do everything you can to keep from losing and to take away the luck.”
In spring training, he visited with Alex Cora and addressed the Red Sox team in Fort Myers.
“I just think the spirit around them and Cora’s leadership is outstanding,” he says. “He doesn’t get too high or too low and they’ve got a great vibe about them.”
He’s not concerned about the Red Sox’ slow start this season.
“If anybody can start this way and just kind of handle it, they’ll handle it great.”
Hockey is his weakness, he admits.
“I don’t know them as well because in Indiana we don’t hardly have hockey, we have some hockey, but not very much.”
Stevens sometimes gets to the TD Garden in time to catch some third-period action if the Bruins are playing a matinee when the Celtics play that evening.
“It’s been a blast to get to know the sport better, ” he says.
He says he’s a big Bruce Cassidy fan, but he mostly watches them on TV.
He likes the way Cassidy, also a former player, communicates.
“I’ve always liked Bruce and he is a neat guy that I think you can feel in his words how important toughness is.’’
Both the Celtics and the Bruins have great momentum now, but Stevens has learned that momentum isn’t the most important key to a championship.
“Are we controlling what we can control? And are we playing with great purpose? To do that then we’ll see where it takes us.”
Cassidy admires Stevens and the Celtics championship tradition, but he is in awe of the way Belichick runs training camp, with activity going on simultaneously on the three practice fields at Gillette Stadium.
“What I liked about it was how organized it was for such a big group of players,” Cassidy says. “They blow that horn and all of a sudden everyone was there doing that two-minute drill.”
It also reinforced his belief that greatness doesn’t come automatically, especially for the over-40 crowd.
“I liked seeing Brady working on his own. He’s tough. He’s like Z [Zdeno Chara] after practice. He’s doing these sprints with the bands and that’s not easy. He’s not just chucking a 10-yard out. He’s working on his core and leg strength.”
Back at the Auerbach Center at practice, Stevens excuses himself for a team meeting. There’s not enough time to discuss all that he’s learned from Boston’s Mount Rushmore of leaders.
“That’s maybe a book,” he says.
But there is a reason that Boston teams have won their last eight consecutive playoff series and have a shot of being the only city to ever have four reigning world champions.
Maybe that reason is encapsulated in three words posted on the wall of the cushy team meeting room at the Auerbach Center. Consider it the Cliff Notes to all their coaching philosophies.
“EVERY POSSESSION MATTERS.”
Stan Grossfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.