Celtics Pres­i­dent Danny Ainge suf­fers mild heart at­tack

The News-Times - - SPORTS -

BOS­TON — Bos­ton Celtics Pres­i­dent Danny Ainge had a mild heart at­tack and is ex­pected to fully re­cover.

The 60-year-old ex­ec­u­tive re­ceived im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion Tues­day night in Mil­wau­kee, the team said in a state­ment Thurs­day. The Celtics were fac­ing the Bucks in the sec­ond round of the play­offs. Ainge, who also had a mild heart at­tack in 2009, was sched­uled to re­turn to Bos­ton.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said af­ter the team prac­ticed Thurs­day that he’s been in fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Ainge’s family. He said they all seem to be do­ing well.

“That’s all pos­i­tive, but cer­tainly it’s scary,” Stevens said. “To me, he’s a friend and the family’s been so good to us. So, you don’t even think about any­thing else. You just want him to be com­fort­able and feel­ing great, get­ting bet­ter, that it’s a good prog­no­sis.”

Game 3 of the Celtics’ se­ries with the Bucks is Fri­day night in Bos­ton.

“This is much big­ger than bas­ket­ball,” Stevens said. “Game 3 is Game 3. You al­ways want to play your best at this time of the year. Ob­vi­ously, he re­ally cares about the re­sult. We all re­ally care about the re­sult. But this is a game. So, that’s what it is.”

Stevens’ com­ments were echoed by Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who said the team was in­formed by the coach­ing staff be­fore prac­tice Thurs­day. Now in his fifth sea­son in Bos­ton, Smart is the long­est-tenured player on the ros­ter.

Smart shares a close re­la­tion­ship with Ainge, who was there to comfort him while his mother, Camel­lia Smart, en­dured and even­tu­ally died from cancer last year.

“Danny is just one of those guys. He takes time out of his life and his day, what­ever he’s do­ing and his sched­ule, to make sure you’re all right,” Smart said. “He con­stantly checks in on my family and ev­ery­thing like that. Just per­son­ally for me he’s been like an­other men­tor for me.

“From when I first got here Danny was that per­son I seen ev­ery day. … He means a lot to my life as well. I just hope he makes a speedy recovery.”

Ainge was a two-sport star at BYU who in 1981 won the Wooden Award as the nation’s top college bas­ket­ball player. He played parts of three sea­sons with the Toronto Blue Jays, bat­ting .269, be­fore set­tling into a 14-year ca­reer in the NBA.

Ainge was an All-Star in 1988 and won two cham­pi­onships with the Celtics along­side Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.

Ainge coached the Phoenix Suns for three-plus sea­sons and took over the Celtics’ bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions in 2003. He was named NBA ex­ec­u­tive of the year in 2008 af­ter en­gi­neer­ing the deals for Kevin Gar­nett and Ray Allen that helped the Celtics raise their record 17th cham­pi­onship ban­ner.

Sam Green­wood / Getty Images

Rory McIl­roy of North­ern Ire­land plays his sec­ond shot on the 18th hole dur­ing the first round of the Wells Fargo Cham­pi­onship at Quail Hol­low Club on Thurs­day in Charlotte, N.C.


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