The Brad Stevens Origin Story (Bonus)

You’ve read The Brad Stevens Origin Story and, I assume, signed up every Celtics fan you know and even some you don’t, so they could read it, too.


Part 1: Brad Stevens, high school superstar
Part 2: Brad Stevens, rookie college freshman
Part 3: Brad Stevens, starter and sixth man
Part 4: Brad Stevens, senior reserve
Part 5: Brad Stevens, grad student of the game
Part 6: Brad Stevens, basketball lifer

Now, as promised, a bonus episode: Brad Stevens, grilled cheese origins.

The anecdote is mentioned, one way or another, every few years, pretty much whenever a Brad Stevens profile hits newsstands. Former New York Times scribe Pete Thamel first referenced it in April 2010, when Stevens was working on the first of two Final Four appearances at Butler.

The story, which brings us back to the basketball court in Brandon Monk’s backyard, where Stevens and his childhood friends played morning, noon and night, goes something like this:

“He loved grilled cheese sandwiches so much,” Thamel wrote of young Stevens, “that he used to bring his own bread and cheese to Monk’s house so that Monk’s mother could make them.”

It’s too perfect, too glorious, too Hoosiers a detail to describe the origins of the Celtics coach. There’s just no way this Indiana kid loved basketball so much that he brought a loaf of bread and some American cheese slices over, just so Monk’s mom could keep them fueled for more.

“It’s absolutely true,” Monk told Parquet Post, “and it was probably more than once.”

Monk’s mom was, in her son’s terms, “a down-home amazing cook,” and she loved feeding the swelling number of neighborhood kids who started gathering for games at their backyard oasis. This was suburban Zionsville, Ind., in the early 1990s, a time and place Monk says was “very much a throwback Midwest type of feeling,” where neighboring parents look out for one another.

“It wasn’t just one time they came over and asked my mom to cook,” added Monk, laughing. “I know how that story sounded. It was never like that. My mom was always feeding everybody.”

So, the kids played for an hour or two on Monk’s full-court blacktop in the morning, ventured inside to wolf down the lunch his mom had made for them, and then went back out for more.

“And we loved it,” said Monk. “It was utopia for a kid from Indiana.”

Because grilled cheese was so often on the menu, Stevens and Jason Brown, another kid from a crew that had grown to a couple handfuls by then, figured it would be funny — or nice — to bring a bag of bread and some cheese for Monk’s mother. Mostly funny. They found it hilarious.

“And my mom decided to teach them how to make it,” said Monk.

Smart woman, shifting the chef’s increasing workload to a few line cooks, and so typical of Stevens’ continued evolution. Constantly curious, constantly learning, whether it’s bread and cheese or basketball. I can only imagine the level of detail Stevens puts into each now.

If you enjoyed this series, please spread the word and help get Parquet Post’s subscriber count up before the playoffs. We’re 130 strong now, and I’m proud of that. All March subscription fees were donated to Boston Speaks, a basketball camp for children with special needs. If there’s a charity you’d like us to support in April, email

Programming note: I’ve stepped up the coverage in the playoffs, with a Round 1 mailbag and dispatches from the Garden after Games 1 and 2 against Milwaukee over the past week, so you’re getting more bang for your Bucks. (Sorry, I’ll see myself out now.) We’ll be back next week with more from Game 5 or before Round 2. Enjoy Games 3 and 4 this weekend.

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