Danny Ainge has truly been fearless when it comes to pulling the trigger on a blockbuster trade that he feels will help the Celtics. From the big Antoine Walker trade soon after he took over (that resulted in his being called a snake by Walker) to the Blount/Ricky/Banks/Reed for Wally/Jones/Kandi deal last January. He has consistently said in interviews this offseason that he is looking to bring in a star player in a trade but he won't just trade for the sake of making a trade. He is content to stay with what we have until the right trade comes along. In the meantime, he keeps Celtics' fans on pins and needles waiting to see what he will do next. Since Ainge is very tight lipped about possible trades, we probably won't know about it until after the trade has already been done.
Danny Ainge grew up in Eugene, Oregon. Talented in multiple sports, Ainge starred in high school on his football team and led North Eugene High School to back-to-back state basketball championships in 1976-77, earning all-state honors both years. He also was named to the 1977 Parade Magazine High School All-America team.
As a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Danny chose to attend Brigham Young University. An All-American and winner of the Wooden Award as college basketball player of the year in 1981, Ainge also played professional baseball while attending Brigham Young University. In parts of three seasons with the AL's Toronto Blue Jays, he batted only .220, playing primarily at second base. Because he seemed intent on baseball as a career, Ainge wasn't chosen until the second round of the 1981 NBA draft, by the Boston Celtics. The Celtics bought out his Toronto contract and he joined the team for the 1981-82 season. Things didn't go very well for Ainge at first in his basketball career. According to Larry Bird in his autobiography Drive, Celtics players used to make fun of Ainge's initial shooting percentage, some joking that his batting average of .220 was better than his shooting percentage on the basketball court. But Ainge became one of the important pieces 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 became a good outside shooter and was known for hustling, aggressive play that involved him in a number of on-court fights. The most famous was between the 6'5" Ainge and 7'1" Tree Rollins. Ainge had been in the league for only two years when he tackled Tree Rollins in a Celtics-Hawks playoff game at the old Boston Garden in April 1983. Rollins was a 7-footer, but Ainge -- looking like a cornerback bringing down a giant tight end -- hit Rollins low and took him to the floor. While the two rolled around the parquet, Rollins bit Ainge's finger, a wound that required a tetanus shot and 5 stitches. The headline in the next day's paper read "Tree Bites Man." The most amazing part of the story is that it has been completely inverted in most retellings and the majority of American sports fans seem to believe it was Ainge who bit Rollins.
In 1989, Ainge was traded to the Sacramento Kings for young center Joe Kleine, whom the Celtics saw as a possible substitute to the aging Robert Parish. Despite Ainge's leadership, the Kings could not make it to the playoffs.
In 1990, Ainge was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. 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. He tied a record in this series: 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 NBA season, Ainge became a free agent. He had stated in media interivews 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 news came as a surprise to the Blazers front office, as Ainge had not contacted them first and subsequently led him to fall out of favor with Blazers fans.
The Phoenix Suns were a team looking for a new identity. They inaugurated a new home, hired a new head coach, and brought in a new superstar in Charles Barkley. They signed Ainge as a free agent prior to the 1992-1993 NBA 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, only to lose to the Bulls in six games.
After retiring from basketball, Danny became head coach of the Suns. His resignation from the Suns coaching job was a sudden one. He cited a need to spend more time with his family as his reason for leaving. After that, he was a broadcaster for TNT. He even owned a hat store while in Phoenix which he has since sold.
In 2003, Danny was named the GM for the Boston Celtics. On naming him the GM, Red Auerbach had this to say, "I know that it will be a great relationship because he is a worker. He has a great personality, he’s smart and bleeds green!"
On the personal side, Ainge and his wife, Michelle, currently live in Wellesley, Massachusetts. They have six children. His son, Austin, currently plays basketball at BYU and was an Honorable Mention at the All-Mountain West Conference during the 2004-05 season. His nephew, Erik Ainge, is a rising athletic star as well. He's expected to start as quarterback on the football team at the University of Tennessee as a junior.
As when he was a player, you either love Danny Ainge as the GM or you hate him. Many feel that he has done a great job gathering young talent and draft picks to either trade or to become stars in their own right. Others feel that the moves he has made continue to keep the Celtics in mediocrity. It is no secret that the Celtics are a much more exciting team than they were when he took over. It is also no secret that Danny isn't afraid to make a big move if he thinks it will improve the team. Love him or hate him, he sure has made things interesting.
I am a big time supporter of Danny Ainge. I am really supportive of his talent evaluation--he has a keen eye when it comes to a player's talent and skill level. Another very good thing about Ainge is his "lucky" factor. He just has that luckiness in him. Ever since he's gotten here, good things have been happening in the drafts. We steal Jefferson and Gerald in the late lottery. We absolutely get a fabulous steal with Ryan Gomes landing at 50. Getting a solid Center like Perkins with the 27th pick is also a lucky draw.
I just have this enormous gut feeling that he will bring home a big prize pickup through a trade that will push us over the top. It may not be this season, but sometime in the near future, he will pull the trigger on a trade that brings a star player here.
I have tried to find ways of contacting Danny Ainge, but to no avail. My son, Zach Blodgett is currently (July 2011) playing AAU basketball in Florida. He is on the Maine (yes, Maine) MAC 17U/18U team. Ainge approached 4 of the players on the team after a game (one was my son) and shook their hands and commented on their good playing. This totally made my sons day, and I know that Mr. Ainge probably does this frequently as part of P.R., but it made my sons day and made me feel that all of my unaffordable contributions to Zach's desire to "just play ball" was all well worth it. Thank you, Mr. Ainge...for some kids, dreams really do come true!