From P.E.I to the Celtics: Scott Morrison's NBA journey / by Philip Drost


As Boston Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison prepares for a big early season game against the Toronto Raptors, it's hard to believe that just a few years ago he was doing laundry in the NBA's developmental league. It wasn't exactly a prestigious moment in his life, but it helped him get to where he wanted to go. 

Scott Morrison's journey began in the small province of Prince Edward Island. Morrison says he was born with a bit of an advantage. His father, George Morrison, was a top coach on the island, and was recently inducted into the provinces sports hall of fame. 

Morrison got his first head coaching gig at the age of 23 with the Dalhousie University women's basketball team. From there, he would take an extended stay with Lakehead University.

It ain't all easy

Despite having a very successful final five years at Lakehead, it was a struggle at first.


 "When I got there, I was 25, I thought I would be coaching the Knicks in three years. I thought I knew everything and had the world in the palm of my hand, but it turned out to be quite a struggle," said Morrison. 

In Morrison's last game coaching Lakehead in 2013, his team lost to the powerhouse Carlton Ravens in the national finals. 

But it was time for Morrison to make a decision. His contract was up, and he was trying to renegotiate with Lakehead for more money, following the success he had with the team. But the university couldn't afford it. 

Instead, Morrison asked for a year sabbatical. 

Doing the dirty (laundry) work

Morrison had hoped to volunteer with an NBA team, but wasn't able to find a job there. That's when Morrison started looking at the NBA's developmental league, and became an intern with Maine Red Claws, an affiliate of the Boston Celtics.

Scott Morrison

There Morrison would take on some unusual duties. Morrison would have to do some laundry, set up the court, and even drive the bus during his time as an intern. Morrison recalls working with one of his fellow interns, Jim Moran, who is an currently an assistant coach with the Portland Trailblazers.

"There were several days when we were the only ones in the office. These guys would just leave their stuff on the floor, towels, face clothes, and anything you can imagine, and we're picking it up. And we're kinda looking at each other like, how did we get to this point?"

But it wasn't all clean up duty. Morrison has some basketball tasks as well, and his success at those eventually caught the eye of Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. The following summer, as Morrison was preparing to return to Lakehead, he got a call from Stevens asking if he would be the head coach of the Red Claws. It didn't take much convincing. 

"I took it right on the spot. It took me about three seconds to decide."

Morrison had done some work with the Celtics while he was head coach of the Red Claws, but in the summer of 2017, he was brought on as an assistant coach. 

Hurt Hayward

During the off-season, Morrison worked with the rookie Semi Ojeleye and big free agent acquisition Gordon Hayward.

I thought his shoe fell off and it was just kind of hanging off the side of his foot, obviously it turns out it was much more serious than that.
— Scott Morrison

"I was joking with him that the first workout we did, he signed a max contract, I must be a pretty good coach."

Morrsion worked with Hayward almost every day of the summer, and Hayward was excited to get on the floor and play, until the unthinkable happened. 

Just a few minutes into the first game of the season, Hayward went to catch a lob, and landed awkwardly.

"I thought his shoe fell off and it was just kind of hanging off the side of his foot, obviously it turns out it was much more serious than that," said Morrison. 

But it wasn't long before Morrison was all over social media, rebounding the ball for the seated Hayward as he worked on his shot.

"We're still doing our workouts. Whatever he can do, we try to keep him busy, and making sure he's improving his skills well off his feet."

And there hasn't been any let up from the rest of the Celtics either. At the time of the interview the Celtics were 11-2, and they went on to win a thrilling victory over the Toronto Raptors. 

Morrison is happy with where he is at right now, but he certainly would eventually like to move up.

"Maybe eight, 10 years down the road, if the team does well and Coach Stevens gets sick of me, maybe he will recommend me to a team with an opening," said Morrison. 

"Now it's just exciting, all the things that you asked me about, being a part of the Celtics, being in the NBA, it's all pretty new. I'm proud to be here, but also hungry to be a better NBA coach."

For more about Morrison's journey, listen to Episode 24 of Canada's Court.