Well, at least the Pacers used to be Brad Stevens' favorite team.
Stevens came of age playing basketball at Zionsville High School and then DePauw University as the Indiana Pacers took Central Indiana by storm with their quality teams in the 1990's. Great times to be a local NBA fan.
Stevens was firmly on board with the Pacers, which was obvious in his choice of No. 31 for his high school uniform. While reaching heights before unseen at Butler as the Bulldogs' head coach, Stevens kept tabs on the pro team downtown and naturally developed a professional relationship with Frank Vogel, another young coach taking a similar approach to coaching his team and building a winner.
Tonight in the Boston Garden, the teams of these two unlikely NBA coaches will face off for the first time. It will surely be another surreal experience for Stevens who never seems to get caught up in such moments. Vogel and Stevens are always coy when discussing the relationship they had when both were in Indy. They downplay any discussion they have as being professional courtesy conversations.
That may be the case, but I can't imagine these two guys, who both enjoy consuming all of the information and nuance about the game they can possibly gorge on, wouldn't get lost in conversation while sharing experiences. In fact, I also believe Vogel's experience and success with the Pacers played some sort of role in Stevens' decision to leave Butler and give the NBA a shot. I know, Danny Ainge and the Celtics offering the top job played a bit of a role, too. But still, Stevens could see how he could make the jump through the example he witnessed at the other Fieldhouse in town.
Of course, neither coach cares about the backstory today. They live in the present and for the Celtics, they are just trying to play the best they can regardless of the opponent or final result. Building up what they have with an eye toward the future.
For the Pacers, the final result carries more weight this year because they are on a mission to gather as many W's as possible. Building up what they have with an eye toward the playoffs.
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