Cora's Celtics connection goes back years (2024)

June 17th, 2024

Cora's Celtics connection goes back years (1)

Ian Browne


This story was excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

With the Boston Celtics just one win away from winning the NBA championship, Red Sox manager Alex Cora is anticipating the moment.

This isn’t just because Cora is a basketball fan who gets to TD Garden when his schedule allows.

For Cora, the connection to the Celtics -- who can clinch their 18th banner with a Game 5 win against the Mavericks in Boston on Monday night -- is personal.

The connection starts with Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, who reached out to Cora during a dark time in his life in 2020 when he was serving a season-long suspension from MLB for his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Back then, Stevens was the head coach of the Celtics.

“Brad, he’s been great for me,” Cora said. “When I was home in ‘20, he actually reached out to me to ask me a few things about October [baseball], the way we did things.”

At the time, in the heart of the COVID pandemic, the Celtics were in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World playing the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“He was asking, ‘If I was in a bubble with them, what would I do?’ We had great conversations about it,” said Cora.

Stevens has visited the Red Sox in Spring Training multiple times, including in 2018, Cora’s first season managing the club. Five months ago, Stevens was a motivational speaker at the Red Sox’s Rookie Development Program.

Road trip dress code: ☘️

— Red Sox (@RedSox) June 6, 2024

Part of the uniqueness of pro sports in Boston is the way the teams have always tried to support each other in different ways.

Last season, when the Red Sox were playing in Philadelphia the same weekend Boston’s basketball team was in town playing the Sixers in the playoffs, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla came to batting practice prior to a game at Citizens Bank Park and chatted up Cora.

Their relationship has grown since then.

“Joe has reached out to me a few times and actually I did a Zoom call with them, with the coaching stuff, early in the season,” Cora said.

Following the arc of the Celtics the last several years, Cora is enjoying watching the team near a crowning moment that has been elusive.

“It's been fun,” Cora said. “Just kind of like how this team evolved to who they are. They have two great superstars [Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown], young ones, who are really good at what they do. They have learned over the years how to become partners, just to overcome adversity. There’s a process in the NBA.”

During the Eastern Conference Finals last month, Cora had a bonding night with his 6-year-old twin boys with seats on the floor.

“Going into the Garden is great,” Cora said. “It’s just electric. It’s fun. I took the boys over there and they loved it.”

inspiring the next generation ☘️

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 2, 2024

As the manager of a World Series championship team that went 119-57 (including the postseason) in 2018, Cora sees parallels to this year’s Celtics, who are 79-21 entering Monday.

“They’re almost there,” Cora said. “They’re very similar to us in ’18.

What about the ’23-24 Celtics reminds Cora of that juggernaut that Cora managed six years ago?

“You’ve got the star players. But then the role players who are really good,” Cora said. “There's a notion out there that people think that we only had eight guys out there playing and that was it. We platooned behind the plate, we platooned at first, at second, at third.”

Though Tatum and Brown are the standout players, the Celtics have had big contributions from Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford, among others.

“I think when you surround the superstars with good, solid role players, good things are going to happen,” said Cora. “And I think the level of basketball for them doesn't go down. They're very consistent at what they do. And we felt the same way that year. The expectation was to win the World Series. Same as these guys. The expectation is to win the whole thing. If not, it was a bad year.”

Cora's Celtics connection goes back years (2024)


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