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OKC Thunder: Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Thunder GM Sam Presti share plenty of similarities

Former Thunder assistant coach Ron Adams now works for Stevens. Adams said Stevens and Presti are very much alike, including a meteoric rise in basketball.
by Anthony Slater Published: January 23, 2014

Back in 2009, Ron Adams was closing out his first season as a Thunder assistant coach with an exit interview in Sam Presti's office.

One last conversation with the boss to evaluate his performance. 

“I'm getting ready to go and he says, ‘No, you're not done yet,'” Adams recalls. “He said, ‘Now I want you to evaluate my performance.' Which is unheard of and so special and so unique about Sam.”

It's an ability to take and utilize criticism. And it's something Adams identified in both his old boss and his new one, Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens, who Adams now works under as an assistant.

But the similarities between Presti and Stevens don't stop there.

Both come from small college backgrounds, Presti playing basketball at Division III Emerson College in Boston, Stevens at Division III DePauw University in Indiana.

And they both have seen a meteoric rise in the hoops world. Presti went from volunteer assistant in San Antonio to general manager of one of the NBA's best teams. Stevens coached Butler from a relative unknown to multiple Final Four appearances, before taking a job in the NBA.

Presti is 36. Stevens is 37.

“The thing that defines both Sam and Brad is, regardless of the success they have had or will have in the future, these two people are who they will be when they are 75-years-old,” Adams said. “They're just solid, grounded, grateful, humble people. Both very smart. Both very analytical.”

And because Adams so easily identified the characteristics that strung these two together, he figured he'd introduce the pair: “I'm a good matchmaker,” Adams joked.

Once they met, back in Stevens' early years at Butler, the two basketball minds immediately clicked. Presti attended a number of Stevens' practices and games, and the two had numerous conversations.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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