Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is willing to make himself physically ill if it means delivering the team’s 18th NBA title.
During an interview on Indianapolis sports radio WFNI-AM 1070 The Fan on Friday, Stevens said smoking one of Red Auerbach’s famous victory cigars would likely make him ill. Despite that fact, Stevens joked that his wife, Tracy, is eager to find out.
“My wife laughs at me because when I first got here, [cigars were] a nice, common courtesy gift that people gave me,” Stevens told “The Dan Dakich Show.” “I was sent a couple of cigars, or people gave me cigars. And anybody that knows me knows that, if I tried to smoke a cigar, I would probably throw up on the spot. She wants us to win one for every reason, but the biggest reason she wants us to win a championship would be to see me throw up on the court once I had to smoke that stogie.”
Reflecting on his cigar revelation, Stevens added, “How boring is that?”
The topic of cigars started when Stevens was asked about the long-term contract he signed last month. Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck noted at the team’s news conference last week that he felt Auerbach would have approved of locking up both Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
Stevens noted that there is a great responsibility in trying to fill a post once held by Auerbach, who won a team-record 938 games and nine NBA titles during his tenure as coach of the Celtics.
“I do walk by a chair that [Auerbach] used, that’s kind of up on a perch, right next to my office, and I walk by it every day with a picture of him smoking that cigar,” Stevens said. “And there’s a little pressure and responsibility that comes with that when you walk by it. Sometimes, after a loss, I walk in the back way, so I don’t have to feel it quite as bad. But no, he’s a legend here, and all that they accomplished puts a lot of responsibility on the rest of us, but it’s a lot of fun trying to live up to that tradition.”
The Celtics won 48 games last season and challenged for a top spot in the Eastern Conference before settling for the fifth seed. Boston was eliminated from the opening round of the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks in six games.
Just how close are the Celtics to making Stevens smoke a victory cigar?
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “I think that everybody that’s not playing [in the NBA Finals] feels that way. Certainly, every season is its own entity, every team that you have is its own entity. We’ve got to get better at everything that we can control. … We’re really trying to figure out how we can be better at the things we can control. We’ve got a ways to go, but we’ve got a bunch of tough-minded guys that work really hard, and I think we’re on the right path.”