According to Danny Ainge, he approached Celtics ownership back in March about his decision to step down as president of basketball operations, something ownership offered "no support" in.
During Wednesday afternoon's press conference, team owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca told Ainge to be sure of wanting to retire.
"We asked him to think about it some more when he first came up with it, to make sure he thought it through," Pagliuca said to the media via Zoom. "I just can’t tell you how much we appreciate him and everything that he's done. He'll leave his imprint on this organization for years to come."
Grousbeck also interjected on Ainge making the decision to step down.
"Danny came and said it was time," Grousbeck said. "It was completely his decision with no support whatsoever from ownership in making that decision. None was offered. No support was offered except for wishing him the best once it became clear that was his decision."
Ainge, who helped the Celtics build a championship contender in 2007, by trading for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce to not only win an NBA title in their first season together, but also remain competitive for several years.
As the new "Big-3" era came to an end, Ainge was able to swing a deal for unprotected draft picks that were used on future All-Star prospects Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. While "trader-Danny" struck gold again when landing Kyrie Irving during the summer of 2017 in an attempt to build another super-team, it quickly fell apart when Irving left Boston via free agency two years later.
After 18 seasons, Ainge leaves the franchise -- who ironically just got eliminated by Irving and the Brooklyn Nets from the first round of the playoffs in give games, but the Celtics remain in a good place moving forward.
"It was my decision," Ainge said. "I don't know if there was a moment in time, but like I said earlier, I trust my instincts, and my instincts told me a couple months ago that it was time for me to move on, and that's what's best for us, that's what's best for the Celtics."
Despite not winning that second championship, it was in 2019 when Ainge suffered a heart attack that forced him to prioritize what's more important.
"You're surrounded by your six children in the hospital and they're saying, 'Hey, you need to quit doing this for work, it's causing you too much stress,'" Ainge said. "That's probably when I started thinking about it. And these last two years have been tough. In the bubble and all the rules and scrutiny and protocols that we had to go through has not made the job as much fun."I don't know if there was a moment in time but like I said earlier, I trust my instincts and my instincts told me a couple months ago that it was time for me to move on and that's what's best for us, that's what's best for the Celtics."
Ainge appreciated the support from Celtics ownership throughout his tenure after being hired by them back in 2003.
"It's rare in this business where there's so much public scrutiny about every decision you make where you come in, and you leave 18 years later and you're closer and better friends than when you came in," Ainge said. "… That will never end. That's what I’m most proud of, is relationships.
"Looking forward to the next chapter," he concluded. "Looking forward to the next chapter for the Celtics and for us."
The Celtics will now have Brad Stevens transition into Ainge's old role as the new president of basketball operations, after eight years at the helm of being the team's head coach.
Photo used courtesy of CLNS Media
Photo used courtesy of CLNS Media
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