Danny Ainge was a major fixture of the Boston Celtics and its culture for years.
He played for the team from 1981 to 1989 but came back to Boston in 2003 as executive director of Basketball Operations.
He remained in that position for years, up until 2021.
During that time, he was a part of all the major moves by the team and its front office, including drafting Jayson Tatum in 2017.
Since then, Ainge has moved on to a new job with the Utah Jazz but he is still well-regarded by the Celtics, including Tatum.
“I’m grateful for him. He took a chance on a nineteen-year-old kid,” Tatum recently said about Ainge.
“I’m grateful for him. He took a chance on a nineteen-year-old kid”
Jayson Tatum looks forward to seeing Danny Ainge and Will Hardy again tomorrow night in Utah pic.twitter.com/rgnM7NRL0B
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 18, 2023
Ainge and his organization had a lot of faith in Tatum back in 2017.
They knew that the Duke player could be the next big thing and selected him as the third overall pick in the draft.
Years later, Tatum is now one of the best players in the league and is averaging 30.2 points, 9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists a game.
The selection of Tatum was not the only historic thing that Ainge did while running the Celtics.
The legacies of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Isaiah Thomas, and many others were all affected by Ainge and his choices.
And the team’s Finals success in 2008 was also due in part to Ainge and the work he had done.
He is now doing great things for the Utah Jazz and has accumulated a lot of young talent and draft picks since becoming the CEO of basketball operations for that team.
But he will always be considered a Celtics hero to many, including the players.