I enjoyed reading this.
by Zak Keefer / The Star Brandon Gaudin sat in the front seat of his car, which sat in the parking lot of a Michaels arts and crafts store, which sat in the sweltering heat of the Ft. Worth, Texas, summer. His air conditioning hummed while his emotions raced.
An email had just flashed across his phone. "STEVENS HIRED BY CELTICS" read the subject line.
In town visiting family, Gaudin, the radio voice of Butler basketball, had stopped by Michaels to pick up a Father's Day gift. Now, that would have to wait.
This had to be a joke...
Surely, he would've heard about the head coach leaving before a press release popped up on his phone. Wouldn't he?
Frantic, he fired off a text message to Josh Rattray, the Butler sports information assistant who'd sent the email out moments earlier.
Six hundred miles north of the Michaels parking lot, Roosevelt Jones lay flat on his back in a tattoo parlor in St. Louis. He was getting some new ink: A pair of wings covering his chest.
A text message rolled in. "Call me ASAP," it read. It was from Brad Stevens.
But Jones, at that point Butler's top returning player for the coming season, couldn't call anyone - not until the tattoo was finished. While the needle stung his skin, his mind scattered in anticipation.
What could this be about?
A half hour later, he called his coach. Stevens spoke slowly, his carefully chosen words laced with torment.
"I'm not going to be your coach next season," he began.
Jones stopped him.
"Could you say that again?"
As Championship Day wound down at the Brad Stevens Butler Basketball camp that afternoon, Alex Barlow checked his phone. He had a text from assistant coach Michael Lewis.
"Team meeting at 5:30," it read. "Be there and be on time."
Nothing serious, Barlow assumed. Most of the players and coaches were headed out of town that night, eager to spend the Fourth of July weekend with family. The meeting, he presumed, was probably called to discuss the schedule for the week they returned.
Barlow, a junior point guard for the Bulldogs, was off to his hometown of Cincinnati. He had Reds tickets.
But hours later, as he sat in the locker room inside Hinkle Fieldhouse and watched Stevens stroll in with watery eyes and a quickened cadence, he realized this wasn't about the schedule. This was serious.
A choked-up Stevens addressed his players.
"I never thought I'd have to say this..." he began.
While Stevens fought back tears in the locker room, Ken LaRose, a Butler associate athletic director, chatted with his wife in the kitchen of their Carmel home. That's when their son, Kenny, called.
"Tell me it's not true!" he pleaded. "Tell me Brad's not going to the Celtics!"
LaRose, a top athletic administrator closely involved in day-to-day operations, was baffled. This can't be right...
"What are you talking about? There is no way..."
LaRose had worked a full day at Hinkle Fieldhouse before heading home. He'd seen Stevens there earlier, running the final day of camp, shuffling through the halls like usual. LaRose had even chatted with Stevens' wife, Tracy, about their family's summer vacation plans.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
So he hung up his phone and told his wife to turn on the television. And that's when they saw it.
There it was, the story of the sports summer erupting before their eyes, at once stunning the college basketball world and shaking Butler University to its collective core. A day they'd long feared had arrived.
Brad Stevens was gone. Just like that.
Brandon Gaudin, sitting in a parking lot in Ft. Worth, Texas, hadn't seen this coming. Roosevelt Jones, getting his chest tattooed in St. Louis, hadn't either. Neither had Alex Barlow. Or Ken LaRose.
Then again, who had?
"Haha," Gaudin wrote. "That's funny."