News Story

Faith Matters to NBA Champions’ General Manager

The fairy tale season for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics ended last week in the best possible way — a drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA championship, Boston’s 17th overall, ending a 20-plus-year championship drought.

Ainge, the Celtics’ general manager and the National Basketball Association’s Executive of the Year, obviously managed the club very well this past season.  As The Boston Globe noted in an editorial 19 June, two days after the championship game:

“The team that Danny Ainge assembled last summer did to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers what the Visigoths once did to Rome.

“And they did it the way (Red) Auerbach would have wanted it done. They played unselfishly.”

While Ainge is grateful for his professional success, he is also grateful for being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“The service element helps me to balance my life,” he said. Currently he is a member of a ward bishopric, one of three lay leaders watching over his local Mormon congregation.  He has worked a lot with Latter-day Saint youth in the past, including on one occasion when he served alongside fellow Mormon Dave Checketts, former New York Knicks president, in a regional youth leadership committee.

These and other service opportunities in his Latter-day Saint congregation “buoy him up,” Ainge said.

As the Celtics’ general manager, Ainge loves hearing about how much fans have enjoyed following the team this year.  He also gets animated when talking about people wanting to find out more about his faith. “I just had a couple walk into our ward who were researching the Church online and had been impressed,” he said.

While he was a player with the Boston Celtics, there were two other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the team, Fred Roberts and Greg Kite. 

He also played professional baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays with five other ballplayers who were also Latter-day Saints.

Ainge had an outstanding collegiate career at Brigham Young University, leading the 1981 BYU team (his senior season) to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. He was also named College Basketball Player of the Year that season.

He and his wife, Michelle, have six children: Ashlee, Austin, Tanner, Taylor, Cooper and Crew.

He said he feels very fortunate to have played in Boston with a team of great players (Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and Dennis Johnson were the other starters for the Celtics during Ainge’s time there) and then currently in “putting this team together to see them win together.”

Since the team Ainge has put together is still relatively young, it would seem that there will be more significant seasons to celebrate.

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