Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, smiles as he addresses reporters at the team’s training facility in Waltham, Mass., on May 16, 2017. Ainge, who helped the Celtics win two NBA titles as a player and another as a team executive, is the new CEO of the Utah Jazz, the team announced Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Danny Ainge, who helped the Boston Celtics win two NBA titles as a player and another as a team executive, is the new CEO of the Utah Jazz.
Ainge stepped into his new role Wednesday. He was also named an alternate governor for the Jazz on the NBA’s Board of Governors.
“Joining the Jazz was a natural and perfect fit for me, as my roots in Utah are deep and strong,” Ainge said in a statement announcing his new position.
Ainge stepped down from the Celtics front office in June, just hours after they were eliminated from the postseason. He won championships with Boston as a player in 1984 and 1986 and took over as president of basketball operations in 2003. He was voted the league’s top executive in 2008, when Boston won its 17th championship — an NBA record that has since been matched by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Although he made one All-Star team and was the starting guard on two Celtics champions, Ainge’s greatest accomplishment in Boston was constructing a new Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen that in 2008 ended the longest title drought in franchise history.
Since then, he has had success in the draft, especially with emerging stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. But even with the addition of established stars like Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, Ainge had not been able to build another championship team.
Ainge has longstanding ties to the state of Utah. He was a star at BYU, where he played from 1977 to 1981 and helped lead the team to an Elite Eight appearance.
“Danny is one of the best basketball minds in the world and he’s also passionate about this state and our community,” said Ryan Smith, owner of the Jazz and the team’s parent company, Smith Entertainment Group. “We believe in adding the best talent to all facets of our organization and are lucky to have Danny’s acumen and experience.”