O’Brien quits Celtics
Boston, MA (Sports Network) – The Boston Celtics announced the resignation of
head coach Jim O’Brien during a Tuesday evening press conference and named
assistant coach John Carroll as their interim head coach.
O’Brien’s resignation stems from conflicts with Boston’s director of
basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“When I was hired, I went through a short list of coaches that were available
and I felt Jim O’Brien was the best man for the job,” said Ainge. “Together,
along with ownership, we embarked on a process of rebuilding the Celtics to a
championship caliber team. However, Jim and I share different philosophies on
how best to attain our shared goal of a 17th championship and I felt those
differences could be overcome and he felt differently. I would like to thank
him for his tireless effort and I am certain Jim O’Brien will be a head coach
again when the opportunity arises.”
O’Brien led the Celtics to consecutive playoff berths after a six-year absence
from the postseason. He took over for Rick Pitino on January 8, 2001,
compiling an overall mark of 139-119.
Boston is currently in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 22-24
record, but the roster has undergone numerous changes since Ainge’s arrival.
Fixture Antoine Walker was sent to Dallas prior to the start of the season in
exchange for Raef LaFrentz, who is now out for the season with a knee injury.
The Celtics then dealt Eric Williams and Tony Battie to Cleveland in December
as part of the six-player trade that brought Ricky Davis to Boston.
The tenuous situation with forward Vin Baker surely hasn’t helped matters.
Baker has been suspended twice this season for violating his aftercare program
as part of his rehabilitation for alcoholism.
The 51-year-old O’Brien, who signed a two-year contract extension last May
when Ainge was first hired, became the Eastern Conference’s longest tenured
coach when Byron Scott was fired by the New Jersey Nets Monday. Atlanta’s
Terry Stotts will now assume the role of the longest tenured head man in the
The Celtics finished the 2002-03 season at 44-38, before getting swept by
the Nets in the second round of the playoffs. The previous year, O’Brien led
Boston to the Eastern Conference finals before falling to New Jersey.
Carroll is in his seventh year as an assistant in Boston and ninth overall in
the league. He was a scout with the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic
in the two years before joining the Celtics.
Before making his move to the NBA, Carroll was the head coach at Duquesne
University, where he led the team to its highest win total (18) in 10 years
in the 1994-95 campaign.
Pitino brought O’Brien to the Celtics as an assistant coach for the 1997-98
campaign after he had spent three years as an associate coach under Pitino at
the University of Kentucky.
O’Brien served as the head coach at the University of Dayton from 1989-94 and
led the Flyers to the MCC Tournament championship in his first season at the
school. Prior to coaching at Dayton, O’Brien also served as an assistant to
Pitino with the NBA’s New York Knicks.
As a player, O’Brien was a three-year starter at Saint Joseph’s University
and led the team to an NIT appearance in 1972 and NCAA Tournament berths in
1973 and ’74.
He was selected to the Saint Joseph’s Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Big Five
Hall of Fame in 1981.