NBA: Danny Ainge’s Balancing Act

Danny Ainge
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This article was originally written by Ian Thomsen for The following is an excerpt. 

“I had the flu,” Danny Ainge was recalling. “I was sitting here in my office, I had a cold, I was stuffed up, so I decided to go home.”

From the car he phoned his doctor, who advised him to swing by for tests and medicine. The doctor then sent him home to bed.

“And then that night my chest was hurting,” Ainge says. “And I woke up, like 5 in the morning, and man, my chest is still hurting. My left arm feels like there’s a numbing. My wife gets her iPad out, she immediately gets aspirin. I take aspirin. She goes, `Let’s go to the hospital right now.’ She had looked online and she said, ‘That’s a symptom of a heart attack, so let’s go.’

“I said, ‘No, no, no, I’m not in that much pain.’ I got up, took a shower, got dressed, and by that time now the pain felt a little bit worse. So, OK, let’s go to the emergency room. We were in the car, it’s 10 minutes from my house, and I couldn’t wait to get there. The pain was more and more and more.”

It was April 16, 2009. Ainge, the 50-year-old general manager of the Boston Celtics, had not been taking care of himself. His responsibilities were exhausting him. If he had been alone, without the help of someone who loved him, would he be alive?

“So I guess I was glad that my wife was there, and she had the foresight to give me a little nudge,” he says. “Because I probably wouldn’t have gone on my own.’

He was going to have to make sense of his own life if he was going to keep doing right by everyone who was counting on him — his family, his loved ones and friends, the Celtics and their owners and employees and fans, and the Mormon church, which had been honoring him with ever-increasing roles of leadership over the years. What was most important? What was he trying to accomplish?

He had been successful in every phase of his life.

Those successes were now threatening to kill him.

Read Thomsen’s full article at