On Friday evening, Damon Stoudamire was an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics who had just arrived in Atlanta for a Saturday night game against the Hawks. That’s when he received a call from a search firm. It was not out of the ordinary.

“I just assumed that they wanted to talk because there were some things possibly open,” Stoudamire said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Stoudamire was aware that Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, a friend and colleague, had been dismissed earlier in the day after seven seasons. When he heard about it, he said the possibility of him being a candidate to coach the Yellow Jackets didn’t register with him. And he still didn’t even know what the call was for – or the purpose of a dinner that the search firm had arranged for that night – until he got in the car, Stoudamire said.

“He was like, ‘Oh, by the way, J Batt – he’s the AD at Georgia Tech,’” Stoudamire said. “‘He’s going to meet us.’”

For Stoudamire, that was the first step in a process that led to his being named Tech’s next head coach Monday, a dinner made possible by the scheduling algorithm that arranged for the Celtics to play the Hawks at State Farm Arena on Saturday.

“I was packed for a 12-day road trip,” Stoudamire said.

Stoudamire’s availability to speak face-to-face with Batt was not, of course, how he landed the job, but merely a serendipitous turn. Stoudamire was on Batt’s list for good reason, having had five seasons as a college head coach (building Pacific into a 20-win team in his fourth season), having been an assistant coach for four NCAA Tournament teams after an illustrious playing career and then serving as an assistant coach for two years with the Celtics. Batt’s background checks confirmed Stoudamire’s legitimacy as a candidate.

“In Damon, we found just what we were looking for,” Batt said at the introductory news conference Tuesday.

In Tech, Stoudamire evidently found the same. According to Stoudamire, when a coach gets in the business, the main objective is to become a head coach and having the chance to prove yourself.

“The second time around, if you’re fortunate enough to get a second time around, you want an opportunity to win big, and that’s what Georgia Tech provides for me – a chance to win big,” he said. “A chance to build, a chance to be like some of my mentors and walk through the same door for 10, 11, 12 years. That’s building. Those are things for me that I look forward to.”

It’s surely an aspiration that Stoudamire shared with Batt as they got to know each other. Friday’s dinner, Stoudamire said, was “conversation and dialogue, and did that for a couple hours or so.” The two met again Saturday before the Hawks-Celtics game. Neither Stoudamire nor Batt shared specifics of their conversations, but both made it clear that they have a shared vision for the program and the commitments necessary to get there.

It was Sunday, Stoudamire said, “when it got serious, I guess. I don’t know; I’m just going on my end. I got a call. Things started moving along, so I guess in my mind, I was just like, ‘OK, I must be their guy.’”

While Stoudamire’s emotional reaction at the news conference and his comment that “it’s been a long time coming” indicated that this was an opportunity he has long aspired to, his approach has been not to pursue jobs, he said.

“I always tell people, unless somebody tells me different, I have never known a guy that’s gotten a job that he chases,” he said.

Somewhere in the process was a conversation with Pastner, who gave Stoudamire his first coaching job (at Memphis in 2011).

“That’s the biggest thing for me, just have a conversation with him,” Stoudamire said. “What was talked about doesn’t matter. But, for me, I’m big on that. I’m a stand-up guy and just having a conversation.”

While the potential for awkwardness in Stoudamire taking a job that was available because the coach who had given him a big career break was fired from it is obvious, Stoudamire said it didn’t change the friendship.

“Nothing has changed,” he said. “We’re friends. And that’ll always be.”

Stoudamire coached for Pastner for two seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13) before going to Arizona for the next two seasons. He returned to Memphis for the 2015-16 season before accepting the job at the University of the Pacific.

“First things first, he hired me at a time when most people said, ‘Ah, NBA players don’t want to work, they don’t want to do this,’” Stoudamire said. “Then he empowered me. I got my base from Josh.”

Pastner helped him learn game-planning, recruiting and academics, Stoudamire said, skills that served him well when he got the job at Pacific, where the athletic department’s limited budget required him to cover a lot of bases.

“He did a lot of things,” Stoudamire said of Pastner. “He was instrumental in a lot of the in-house things, the cookie-cutter things that you need to know about in college athletics.”

As the process moved forward, Stoudamire was slow to accept that it was actually happening.

“The way I operate, I don’t really take anything from it until it’s actually all the way there,” he said. “So, in my mind, I was like, ‘Until I actually see something in front of my face, then it’s just talk.’”

The biggest opportunity of his coaching career didn’t become concrete, he said, until Monday evening after the finish of the Celtics game against the Rockets in Houston, where Batt and Tech President Ángel Cabrera had flown to bring their new coach back to Atlanta. And again Tuesday morning, when he walked past the 750-square-foot video board hanging above Callaway Plaza to see his image and a message welcoming him to Tech.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I am super excited about the job in more ways than you can imagine. Some of the other things that come with it, I have a perspective on it. The perspective for me is always, until things align, nothing’s done. The excitement of getting the job was there, but it didn’t hit me until (Tuesday) morning, and that was the emotion that you saw because there’s a lot of buildup to this. It’s not about the last 24-48 hours. It’s really about the process of me being a coach.”