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US Sports

08th Jan 2016

Boston Celtics coach skips crucial game for selfless, spirit-lifting reason

Touching gesture

Patrick McCarry

Boston Celtics lost to Chicago Bulls last night but their coach was not courtside to see it.

Brad Stevens was in Indiana, rather, to visit a player who gave so much to his Butler Bulldogs [college] side but who is now battling cancer.

Stevens coached the Bulldogs for six years, up until 2013, and had Andrew Smith under his tutelage during that time.

Smith is now coping with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and experiencing the ups and severe downs that come with the disease.

After taking a turn for the worse, in recent weeks, Stevens made the decision to pay his former player a visit.

Stevens left the coaching duties to Jay Larranaga, his assistant, last night and made the cross-country trip.

Interestingly, Larranaga was appointed player/manager of the Irish national team in 2008 and stayed in the role for two seasons.

Celtics had lost three of their last four outings but their coach obviously felt there are more important things in life when he made the call to step away.

The Bulls won, 101-92, but Stevens is expected to return in plenty of time for their weekend encounter with the Memphis Grizzlies.