Butler coach Brad Stevens is a man of his word.
Before his surprise promotion to head coach of the Boston Celtics, Stevens had promised to appear in the bicentennial parade in the small town of Connsersville. Though many would have excused the former Butler coach of opting out, Stevens still showed up, umbrella in hand to avoid the rain that fell during the ceremony.
For Stevens, Connersville has special significance. It was the hometown of Bulldogs star Matt Howard, and the first place he visited after being named coach at Butler.
“It was the first place I drove when I got the Butler job,” said Stevens, who was hired by the university in 2007. “I think we can all agree that was probably a pretty good decision — the drive here to spend time with the Howards. They are just getting a new college coach at the time, and they treated me like I’d been doing it for 20 years.”
It was actually Matt Howard’s father, Stan, who asked Stevens to appear in the parade. Matt Howard said the fact that Stevens still showed up just 24 hours after agreeing to a six-year, $22-million dollar deal to coach the Celtics says a lot about his character.
“He’s always treated our family really well,” said Pete Howard, one of the family’s 10 children. “It takes a lot for a coach to know all of the players and their families.”
In a way, Stevens can trace his success to Connersville, whose native son Matt Howard propelled his run with Butler.
“He’s here because in a small way one of Connersville’s own helped make him successful,” said Stan Howard, Matt’s father.
The former Butler coach was also pleased that the Celtics would let him attend. After telling the team he had a commitment on Saturday night, NBA officials encouraged him to go.
“That’s a place that values team, that’s a place that values culture,” Stevens said.
Shortly after the parade, the former Butler coach was back with the Celtics preparing for the NBA season.