Alabama’s Jalen Hurts has a fan for life in Celtics president Danny Ainge, and for good reason.
As the Boston Red Sox made their run through to their fourth World Series title since 2004, head coach Brad Stevens has been outspoken in his support for and admiration of the team spirit that the Red Sox embodied this season.
The same can be said of Hurts, who plays quarterback for the University of Alabama.
For those of you that may not follow college football, we’ll give you a brief history lesson.
On Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs to win the SEC Championship game. In many ways, the game was a rematch of the last showdown between the teams, except for the fact that the stakes in the prior matchup were just a little higher.
The two teams met in college football’s National Championship game. Hurts, who was the starter for Nick Saban’s team, had an off game and was eventually benched by his head coach, despite otherwise being a fairly impressive talent.
Behind his replacement, Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama pulled off the comeback and became the national champion.
In such a situation, it would have been easy for Hurts to have taken the benching personally and transfer to another program—many pundits thought it was a given.
Instead, Hurts humbly accepted what eventually became a full-time demotion and decided to stick with Saban and the Crimson Tide. Then, on Saturday, an interesting twist of fate gave him the opportunity to persevere and show his mettle.
Tagovailoa, who’d become the starter over Hurts and a Heisman favorite, was injured with the Crimson Tide trailing. Hurts not only filled in for the starter who took his spot, he also happened to lead the Crimson Tide to yet another comeback victory over the Bulldogs.
For most observers, they’ve taken Hurts’ sticking with his team and improbably reemerging as their hero as living embodiment of the “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’” mantra. According to them, team sports should be about more than an individual—it should be about willing to sacrifice for the greater good in pursuit of collective greatness.
Believe it or not, by his actions, Hurts may have proved something tremendous to everyone, including his critics… and NFL scouts.
Danny Ainge probably recognized this since the Celtics are in a similar predicament of needing their collective talent to suppress their want for individual accolades in pursuit of achieving greatness…. Like the Red Sox, whose story resonated quite a bit with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Best believe, the story of Hurts and his achievement is something that Stevens and Ainge will both use to sell to the locker room in Boston.
In light of Terry Rozier’s impending free agency and Gordon Hayward’s being demoted to the bench, it’s fair to wonder to what extent each individual’s goals led the Celtics to sputter out the gate.
Once Jaylen Brown returns from his injury and Marcus Smart is presumably sent back to the bench (although that may not be a good idea), the Celtics will face their own questions.
For Danny Ainge, the hope is probably that the story of Hurts can provide them with an answer or two.