Longtime Celtics exec reacts to Ainge's exit in touching tweet


Danny Ainge's lengthy Boston Celtics career has come to an end.

The longtime Celtics president of basketball operations retired from his position Wednesday and was replaced by head coach Brad Stevens.

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Ainge's departure is a major development, as he had served as Boston's head of basketball operations since 2003 and was the NBA's third-longest-tenured general manager.

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It's also quite the change for Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren, who was one of Ainge's closest confidants. Shortly after Ainge's retirement, Zarren offered a heartfelt Twitter tribute to his former boss.

A lifelong Celtics fan, Zarren joined Boston's staff two years after Ainge in 2005 and had been Ainge's right-hand man as a salary-cap expert for more than a decade.

Zarren now will report to Stevens, who likely will rely heavily on Ainge's former staff in his first NBA front office role.

"We're set up not only from a player standpoint, we've got great coaches in the building, Mike Zarren, Austin (Ainge) -- they are going to make this transition very easy," Stevens told reporters Wednesday in a virtual press conference.

As for Ainge? The 62-year-old said it was his choice to step away from the Celtics, in part due to health reasons after he suffered a second heart attack in 2019.

And if Ainge ever writes a book about his time in Boston, expect Zarren to be featured prominently.

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