The two basketball lifers first met each other at Butler University, where Gordon played and Stevens coached before they both ended up in the NBA. For years, they competed against each other. But that changed when Hayward decided to join Stevens and the Celtics this offseason.
Unfortunately for Hayward, he will have to wait until next season to officially reunite with his college coach. He suffered an injury to his leg in the first game of the season, and is now out for the year.
During his time out, Hayward has been watching the team closely, learning his teammates from afar. But he's already inimitably familial with the coaching prowess of Stevens, as he explained to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
“Brad’s whole career has basically taken situations where it’s like, ‘He’s not going to do that well because of this or that,’ and then he somehow finds a way to do way better than people expected,” Hayward said. “This is just another one of those scenarios. He’s just a master at putting guys in the right positions. Like, if somebody’s not good at coming off pick-and-rolls, don’t have them come off pick-and-rolls. That sounds simple, but he’s really good at it. If we have somebody that’s a really good cutter, put him in a play where they cut to the rim, and they’re not going to be able to guard that.”
The level of intimate knowledge Hayward has about Stevens' coaching style is impressive, but not surprising considering their history. When he returns, expect the adjustment period to be almost nonexistent.