March 17, 1959 |
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||195 lb (88 kg)|
|High school||North Eugene (Eugene, Oregon)|
|NBA draft||1981 / Round: 2 / Pick: 31st overall|
|Selected by the Boston Celtics|
|Number||44, 7, 9, 22|
|1990–1992||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||11,964 (11.5 ppg)|
|Assists||4,199 (4.0 apg)|
|Steals||1,133 (1.1 spg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Daniel Ray "Danny" Ainge (born March 17, 1959) is an American basketball executive and retired professional basketball and baseball player. Ainge is currently the general manager and President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Ainge was an outstanding high school athlete. He is the only person to be named a high school first team All-American in football, basketball, and baseball. At Brigham Young University, he was named national basketball college player of the year and won the John R. Wooden Award for the most outstanding male college basketball player. While in college, Ainge also played parts of three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB), mostly as a second baseman. He was then drafted into the NBA by the Celtics. Ainge completed 14 seasons, playing for the Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns, primarily as a shooting guard. He went on to coach the Suns for three seasons before joining management of the Celtics.
Early sports playing career
Born in Eugene, Oregon, Ainge starred in high school on his football team and led North Eugene High School to back-to-back state basketball championships in 1976 and 1977, earning all-state honors both years; he was considered one of the top prep football recruits in the state of Oregon. As a junior, he was named to the 1977 Parade magazine High School All-America team. Danny Ainge is the only person to be a high school first team All-American in football, basketball, and baseball. Ainge got into fights with other players while playing Church ball in the Eugene area. During the 1987 NBA Finals against the Lakers, a television spot was done on Danny Ainge. He talked about his early days in Eugene suburb Santa Clara where his Dad was the Bishop of his LDS Ward. He talked of how he got to use the gym in the Church building to play and practice basketball due to the fact that his Dad had the key to the building. The LDS Church meetinghouse was shown on the TV spot.
Ainge played basketball at Brigham Young University (BYU) and became a household name after hitting one of the best-known shots in NCAA March Madness history against Notre Dame in 1981. His coast-to-coast drive with seven seconds remaining gave the Cougars a one-point win. Ainge concluded his senior year by winning the Eastman Award, as well as the John R. Wooden Award—given to the best collegiate player in the nation. During his four-year career at BYU, Ainge was an All-American, a two-time First Team Academic All-American, the WAC Player of the Year and a four-time All-WAC selection. He concluded his college career having scored in double-figures in 112 consecutive games, an NCAA record at that time.
March 17, 1959 |
|May 21, 1979, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 22, 1981, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Runs batted in||37|
Ainge was selected in baseball's 1977 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He made it to the major leagues with the Blue Jays in 1979 while still in college. Mostly a second baseman, he played third base and outfield positions as well, hitting .220 in his baseball career with 2 home runs and 146 hits in 211 games. He is the youngest player in Blue Jays history to hit a home run, at 20 years and 77 days.
After three years with the Blue Jays, Ainge decided to pursue a career in basketball and was chosen in the 1981 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, who had to buy out Ainge's contract from the Blue Jays after a legal battle.
Not everything went well for Ainge in basketball at first. According to Larry Bird in his autobiography Drive: The Story of My Life, Ainge had a terrible first day of practice, "shooting 0–2547". Celtics' head coach at the time, Bill Fitch, gave Ainge a rough time, saying his batting average was better than his shooting percentage on the basketball court. But Ainge became an important piece of the team that won the NBA title in 1984 and 1986, and a major contributor of the mid to late-1980s Celtics teams.
Ainge was known as a hard-nosed player, often infuriating opponents with his brash personality. He also had a reputation for complaining about a lack of calls his way, frequently complaining when calls were not made in his favor. In a 1983 playoff game against Atlanta, he exchanged blows with the 7 foot 1 inch Tree Rollins. In retaliation for being called a sissy, Tree Rollins elbowed Danny Ainge in the face. Ainge tackled Rollins and the two began wrestling. Tree bit Ainge's middle finger so hard that it requiring two stitches to keep the tendon together. Ainge was ejected from the contest for initiating the fight. The incident prompted the headline "Tree Bites Man" on the April 25, 1983 Boston Herald. Also, while playing for the Phoenix Suns, Ainge got into a tussle with Michael Jordan at mid court and both were given a technical foul. In a 1994 postseason game, Ainge rifled an inbounding pass at the head of Houston Rockets guard Mario Elie, striking him in the face, snapping his neck back.
In 1990, Ainge was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for Byron Irvin and draft picks. Being a native of Oregon, he was considered a hometown favorite by Blazers fans. He helped the Blazers reach the 1992 NBA Finals, only to succumb to the Chicago Bulls in six games. On June 5, he scored nine points in the extra period to tie an all-time NBA record for most points in an overtime during a finals game.
After the 1991–92 season, Ainge became a free agent. He had stated in media interviews that he ideally wanted to stay in Portland and would contact Blazers management before seriously entertaining offers from other teams. On July 1, 1992, however, Ainge signed a contract with the Phoenix Suns on his first day of free agency.
The Phoenix Suns were a team looking for a new identity. They inaugurated a new home (America West Arena), hired a new head coach (Paul Westphal), and acquired a new superstar (Charles Barkley). The team also redesigned their logo and uniform when they signed free agent Ainge prior to the 1992–93 season, figuring that his experience would help the team during the playoffs. Ainge responded by scoring 11.8 points per game as the Suns went 62–20 that year and reached the NBA finals, where they lost to Michael Jordan's Bulls in six games.
On January 18, 1994, he became the second man ever to hit 900 three-point shots in NBA history (he made 1,002 three pointers for his career), and he scored 11,964 points for an average of 11.5 points per game, 2,768 rebounds for an average of 2.7, and 4,199 assists, an average of four per game, over 1,042 NBA games.
Post-basketball playing career
While a player with the Blue Jays, Ainge opened a national chain of hat stores which he has since sold. He has volunteered his time at a number of charitable organizations and has held a number of jobs since retiring. He became head coach of the Phoenix Suns in 1996. His resignation from the Suns coaching job was a sudden one; he cited a need to spend more time with his family. He was replaced by assistant coach Scott Skiles. In 2003, he was hired as the Executive Director of Basketball Operations for the Celtics. Ainge also served as a commentator for the NBA on TNT.
Ainge has often been controversial in his role as a Celtics executive, trading popular players such as three-time All-Star Antoine Walker (earning himself the nickname "Trader Dan") and having personality conflicts with then-head coach Jim O'Brien (which eventually led to O'Brien's departure to the Philadelphia 76ers). However, Ainge kept the support of both the Celtics' ownership group and—perhaps most importantly—legendary former head coach Red Auerbach, who was employed by the team as a "senior assistant" until his death in October 2006.
The 2006–07 Celtics finished with a 24–58 record, second-worst in the team's history. Following the season, Paul Pierce, team captain and face of the franchise, expressed frustration with the team's failures. He requested a trade to a contender if management were unable to acquire veteran talent of Pierce's caliber.
Ainge responded with two bold moves that changed the franchise's fortunes almost overnight: the 2007 trades for the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett and the Seattle SuperSonics' Ray Allen immediately returned the Celtics to the ranks of the NBA's elite franchises for the first time since the early 1990s. Together with Pierce, they formed a new "Big Three" and led the Celtics to the NBA's best record (66–16) during the 2007–08 season. It was the most dramatic single-season improvement in league history (42 wins more than the previous year), and it earned Ainge the NBA Executive of the Year Award.
Boston faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals, renewing the long rivalry between the two teams. The Celtics won the series in six games, giving the franchise its 17th NBA championship. Danny Ainge held the trophy for the first time since winning in 1986. In October 2008, after the Celtics' championship season, he was promoted to President of Basketball Operations.
On May 3, 2010 Ainge was fined $25K for tossing a towel to distract a Cleveland Cavalier player shooting a free throw during game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
In popular culture
In an early 1990s episode of Married... with Children, light mockery was made at Ainge's expense: At a fictional All-Star basketball game attended by the Bundy family, the public announcer said Ladies and gentlemen, here are your NBA All Stars! ...and Danny Ainge. Clyde Drexler also laments when watching Peggy shooting a free throw that "if we had her instead of Ainge, we would have won the championship."
Rush Limbaugh briefly mentions Ainge in his book See, I Told You So.
Danny Ainge is also discussed during the 1999 movie Mumford, where several of the characters are very impressed by him being both a professional basketball and baseball player, and one names her dog after him.
Ainge and his wife, Michelle, currently reside in Wellesley, Massachusetts; they have six children (Ashlee, Austin, Tanner, Taylor, Cooper and Crew). His son, Austin Ainge, is director of player personnel for the Boston Celtics and like his father, played basketball at BYU. Ainge's nephew, Erik Ainge, was the starting quarterback on the football team at the University of Tennessee and was selected by the New York Jets in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Another relative, Ryan Toolson, was a stand-out guard at Utah Valley University, where he was named NCAA Division I Independent Player of the Year. Ainge and his family are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
NBA career statistics
Head coaching record
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win-loss %|
|Post season||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win-loss %|
|Phoenix||1996–97||74||40||34||.541||4th in Pacific||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Phoenix||1997–98||82||56||26||.683||3rd in Pacific||4||1||3||.250||Lost in First Round|
|Phoenix||1998–99||50||27||23||.540||3rd in Pacific||3||0||3||.000||Lost in First Round|
- List of National Basketball Association players with 1000 games played
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff 3-point scoring leaders
- List of multi-sport athletes
- "'Tree Bites Man' Entered Basketball Lexicon 29 Years Ago Tuesday When Tree Rollins Bit Danny Ainge". 24 April 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
- "Basketball Suns Ainge is Fined $5,000 by NBA". The New York Times. 1995-05-18. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
- Ainge vs Mario Ellie (1994 West Semis) - Danny doesn't forget (by Sole Records). 23 August 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2016 – via YouTube.
- Danny Ainge Hits Mario Ellie RIGHT IN THE FACE!!! BOOOOOM. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2016 – via YouTube.
- "Boston Celtics extend deal of president of basketball operations Danny Ainge". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "A.Ainge named director of player personnel". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "New York Jets QB Erik Ainge opens up about his years of drug abuse and his ongoing battle with addiction and mental illness". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "NBA.com: Celtics GM Danny Ainge has mild heart attack". Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- Danny Ainge, basketball-reference.com. Retrieved October 1, 2012.