The Boston Celtics have a history of incorporating stars from other sports into their organization. Most notably, they included New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in their pitch to star free agent Kevin Durant in 2016. Though Durant didn’t sign with the team, the pitch reportedly went well, and many believe that Durant would be a Celtic right now if the Golden State Warriors had won the championship in 2016. They took Gordon Hayward, a top free agent in 2017, to Fenway Park as part of his tour of the city. They did manage to convince him to join the team.
But the Celtics have never needed to venture outside of Boston in their quest to integrate other sports into their organization. Given their own legendary history and the surrounding sports world, the Celtics have had everything they’ve needed right in their home town. But when they traveled to Denver to take on the Nuggets Monday, they had a unique opportunity. Head Coach Brad Stevens began his career in Indiana at Butler. While there, he met a famous quarterback and Boston rival named Peyton Manning, and the two have remained friendly ever since.
So when the Celtics got to Denver, where Manning finished his NFL career, Stevens invited Manning to watch film with the team according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Though Manning is obviously not a professional basketball player and might not have grasped the specific things he was seeing, Stevens called him “one of the better film watchers I’ve ever been around.” Kyrie Irving echoed that sentiment.
“It’s great, man,” Irving said. “He’s a championship winner, unbelievable preparer of the game. He was doing it for so long, thinking about the injuries he had to endure. It was great to see him just come and talk to your team, being in Denver and just having an echelon of greatness coming and talking, there’s nothing like it.”
Manning is legendary in NFL circles for his dedication to preparation. Opponents have spoken of playing games against him in which he would call out the assignments of all 11 defenders before a given play. Manning won five NFL MVP awards and two Super Bowls. His football acumen, honed through decades of film study, was the biggest reason for that. Manning’s video habits are exactly what any coach would like to instill in their team.
That includes the Celtics. No, Manning would not have been capable of pointing out new strategies to fix their floundering offense, but he could teach them proper habits for studying tape. He could be an example to the entire Celtics team of how far preparation can take you. That appears to have been Stevens’ goal in bringing him in. Only time will tell if the strategy works.