Danny Ainge built a strong reputation as an NBA executive during 18 years with the Boston Celtics from 2003-2021, and the Celtics made two NBA Finals appearances during that time, winning the championship in 2008.

Ainge, the former BYU Cougars basketball star, is now in his first year as an executive with the Utah Jazz as the Celtics get ready to face the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, beginning Thursday night.

Early Thursday, a story by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix was published in which Ainge reflected on his time with the Celtics and the people he worked with, many of whom have contributed to the Finals run.

Opinion: The NBA’s final four teams proved how far the Jazz are from being a contender

“You know, it’s been fun to watch,” Ainge was quoted as saying. “You invest a lot of time in the relationships with all the players. It’s fun to see them get opportunities and play up to their potential. It’s a fun process to go through and watch it blossom.”

Mannix observed that Ainge drafted six of the Celtics’ eight main rotation players, even as some of those selections were at least moderately controversial at the time.

“Of course, these are people that I’ve invested a lot of time in relationships with,” Ainge said, pointing to front office staffers as well as players.

“Of course I’ll be watching (the Finals). I’ve watched pretty much every game all year, and I’ll continue to watch them and root for their success.”