Brad Stevens is someone Bill Belichick respects a great deal. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)
Bill Belichick knows good coaching when he sees it.
And in Brad Stevens, he sees a coach he once was. You’d think it’d be Stevens looking for advice from the Patriots head coach. But on Sunday, Belichick admitted he is the one who has bent the ear of the Celtics’ floor boss for some wisdom.
Stevens turns 40 on Oct. 22 and is entering his fourth season as Celtics coach. When Belichick was 39 (in 1991), he was in his first season as an NFL head coach.
On Friday, Belichick had a chance to chat with Stevens, along with Bruins head coach Claude Julien at his own foundation’s fundraiser at the Seaport World Trade Center.
“Brad and I talked about a lot of things that are just coaching related,” Belichick said in a Sunday conference call. “Obviously, the sports are different. I don’t know anything about basketball and he doesn’t know much about football so it’s really not about X’s and O’s and that kind of thing, but you know, more of the other parts of coaching; preparation, training, team work, teambuilding, confidence, communication, players relationships and so forth.
“Obviously, we’re in the same business of taking more people to training camp than we can keep on the roster and then managing a roster and dealing with all of the things that happen during the year with that roster, whether that’s bringing other guys on to the team, trades, and so forth and so on. We’ve chatted about a lot of those things.
“He has given me a lot of insight and I’d say some of the players that they get are a little younger than the guys we get on average. They’re coming out of college after one year; we get them after three years or four. Just the transition from college to pro which he obviously has a lot of experience with , coming to the New England area – for most players that’s an adjustment. We don’t get too many guys from this area, so all the things like that.”
Stevens, in one sense, is actually on an even faster path to success than Belichick. Stevens got his team to the playoffs in his second and third years. Belichick didn’t make the playoffs until his fourth season in Cleveland. Belichick won a playoff game that year against the Patriots before being eliminated by the Steelers.
Belichick has maintained a close relationship with Boston coaches over his 17 years in New England, starting with the likes of Terry Francona and Doc Rivers in the 2000s. He spent time with Julien during the Winter Classic last December as the Bruins prepared to take on the Canadiens. He also attended several Bruins playoff games during their runs to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and ’13.
Last spring, Belichick was courtside watching Stevens’ Celtics end their playoff drought with wins over the Hawks in Games 3 and 4.
“I’ve gotten to know Brad over the last couple of years,” Belichick said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he has done, taking a young team, a team that you barely knew the names of some of the players on the team and in a couple of years has built them into a strong team. Last year they played very competitively in the playoffs. It was fun to go over there and watch them.”