Celtics Coach Brad Stevens Nearly Began Working at Applebee’s Before Butler Basketball Intervened

Time flies, which means that we are rapidly closing on Brad Stevens coaching the Boston Celtics for nearly a decade.

You read that correctly. The summer of 2021 marks eight years since Stevens, the baby-faced head coach from Butler, took over the same position on a Celtics team that was about to trade Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Stevens owes Butler University for this whole journey. If not for them, Stevens could be the manager of an Applebee’s right now — and that isn’t an exaggeration or insult.

Brad Stevens is the Boston Celtics’ longtime coach

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It feels like yesterday that Brad Stevens was on the sidelines at Butler University, carrying a mid-major program to a near-national championship.

Since 2013, Stevens has been on the Boston Celtics’ bench, and he’s done a terrific job. Through Jan. 18, 2021, Stevens is 326-250 as the Celtics’ head coach.

Boston has made the playoffs every year since 2014-15 and reached the Eastern Conference finals in three of the last four seasons.

The Celtics have won at least 48 games each year since the 2015-16 season began.

After trading away the last pieces of the 2007-08 championship team, Stevens has watched the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown grow into major forces who, hopefully for the Celtics, will bring a title of their own to the TD Garden.

Stevens intended to work at Applebee’s after he graduated

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Long before Brad Stevens ever donned a suit at a Boston Celtics game — or in the COVID-19 era, a polo shirt — he played guard at DePauw University (Ind.) in the 1990s.

Stevens averaged 7.7 points on 42.6% shooting from the field and 31.4% from three-point range in 103 career games and 23 starts. He added 2.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.8 steals per night.

At 6 feet 1 inches and 178 pounds, Stevens understood that playing in the NBA was an incredibly tough task. A three-time Academic All-America nominee, Stevens graduated in 1999 with a degree in economics.

In need of a job to pay the bills, Stevens accepted a job at a local Applebee’s. But right before Stevens began his on-site training, he received a call that changed his life.

Butler University intervened and saved Brad Stevens

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In the summer of 2000, Butler head coach Thad Matta offered Brad Stevens a job.

Stevens could join the Bulldogs as a coordinator of basketball operations, a position that wouldn’t pay him a great deal of money but would keep his basketball dreams alive. Stevens accepted the position and began the next step of his life.

New Butler head coach Todd Lickliter promoted Stevens to an assistant head coaching role the next year. Stevens held that role until he became the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2007.

Butler went 166-49 in Stevens’ six seasons as head coach. Stevens led Butler to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011, but they lost both years.

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