Danny Ainge has quite a career with the Boston Celtics. He came to Boston after the Celtics bought out his MLB deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Ainge was living Michael Jordan's dream of the double threat while His Airness was still in high school.
Ainge was such a good baseball player that the Blue Jays designed him when he was with Brigham Young. Until 1981 he played both sports. Ainge graduated with the Wooden Award and the legendary Celtics picked him up. Boston had to buy Ainge's contract from the Blue Jays.
Danny Ainge was part of another Celtics dynasty
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Ainge continued his success in Boston, although Larry Bird stated in his autobiography that Ainge's first day of training was "0-2547". He could only move up from that disastrous first day and, having spent most of his rookie season on the bench, became a key component for the team during the 1984 final against the Magic Johnson-led LA Lakers.
By the time the Celtics won the 1986 NBA championship, Ainge had established himself as a sniper on the field. 1986-87 he was second in the league for free throws and third for three-pointers. The next year he drilled 148 from across the arch. But dynasties are dying out and Ainge was part of a deal with Sacramento.
Ainge is jumping around in the NBA West
After half a season in Sacramento, Ainge moved to his home state of Oregon and spent the next phase of his career with the Trailblazers. His third trip to the finals was canceled by the scorching Chicago Bulls in 1992. He surprised his teammates in Portland by signing with the Phoenix Suns. His hopes for another championship were again dashed by Jordan, Pippen and Company in the 1993 final. Again Ainge's team lost in six games.
"Tree Bites Man" was a recent headline
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body ever accused Ainge of leaving anything on the floor. In his playing days, he was notorious for being bold and talking rubbish. In a 1984 playoff game, he played with the Center Tree Rollins in Atlanta. He called the 7-foot-1 Clemson alum a sissy, and the two fell to the ground and wrestled. But Rollins had Ainge on his finger, and he needed stitches to hold the string together. The famous headline was in the Boston Herald the next day.
Ainge returned to Boston in 2003 with his fingers intact after training the Suns. He assumed the position of general manager and with a 2008 Celtics championship the old magic was back. It did not last long. In 2009, immediately after the Celtics announced that Kevin Garnett would miss the playoffs, Ainge suffered a minor heart attack. He was only 50 years old.
Ainge is a master of the trading chessboard
Ainge, of course, has its critics. Some say he wasted more talent than any other GM in the NBA. They forget that Ainge mastered the deal that brought Garnett to the Celtics for virtually nothing, and he did the same with Ray Allen. He has the uncanny ability to know when a player has climaxed and to chase them out the door when that happens. t a single ainge trade has reached the All-Star team after leaving Boston.
A second heart attack was a second wake-up call
Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge in 2019 | John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Ainge lost 15 pounds and got healthier after his first heart attack, but he had a second heart attack in May 2019. He admits he had a lot of stress back then, both in the Celtics playoff run and in dealing with Kyrie Irving. His doctors had warned him to avoid stress, so he recorded the games. According to Ainge, that didn't really help the stress.
He has made some changes to his role with the Celtics and his lifestyle. For one thing, he eats less meat and more plants. But Ainge, a devout Mormon, is quick to point out that he is avoiding Bill Walton's favorite plant. Walton smoked a pot at UCLA and remains a huge advocate of legalized weeds.