Billy Donovan Rumors
The town’s train station is planted directly south of his high school, which delivered Donovan the perfect view of that herd of Wall Street businessmen. He noticed the crisp ties and tailored suits, the polished shoes and waxy leather briefcases. Etched in his memory most, though, is the body language – slumped shoulders amidst a backdrop of dreary, depressing weather. “It’d be February and these guys would be sitting up there on the platform and they’d just look miserable,” Billy says. “No one would look happy. I’m like, I don’t want to do that.”
The business strategy was simple. The previous few years, Donovan rose to basketball fame in the northeast. Sports fans — better known on Wall Street as prospective clients — knew his story. He was popular. So Billy proved perfect for pushing stock, particularly to Providence alums. From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., he spent his days cold-calling strangers. “They give me these stack of cards: ‘Call Joe Smith from this company or whatever it is from Dallas, Texas,’” he said. “And I’m trying to get this guy on the phone. And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m pushing what stock? And what does this stock do? And why is this thing going to do well?’ What drove me nuts was the cold-calling.”
At least one person thought that could happen. It was Jeff Van Gundy, a graduate assistant during Donovan’s senior year at Providence. Van Gundy started chirping, gassing Donovan up about his chances as he helped prepare him for training camp. “Jeff’s like, ‘Listen, man. I’m telling you. You’ve got a chance to make this team,’” Donovan remembered. “He said, ‘They’ve got a guy there that’s in, like, his third year named Stockton that I’m not so sure about. He hasn’t played very much.’
John Stockton went on to play his entire 19-year career in Utah, appearing in the third most games of all time while finishing as the NBA’s all-time assist leader. “I’m not saying I didn’t say it, but I don’t remember saying anything specifically,” Van Gundy said of his alleged Stockton comment. “If I said something like that, I’m going to blame my sleep deprivation on coach (Rick) Pitino having us work 20 hours a night. That’s the only explanation for such a ludicrous statement like that.”
On Monday morning, Durant and Westbrook went through a workout together on UCLA’s campus — under the watchful eye of Donovan — navigating through some individual shooting and skill drills. By Tuesday morning, in that same gym near Beverly Hills, the two superstars were joined by a load of teammates and support staff. Among those confirmed in attendance: Durant, Westbrook, Donovan, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Steven Adams, Anthony Morrow, Dion Waiters, Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin, rookie Cameron Payne, assistant coach Monty Williams and Blue coach Royal Ivey.