This is the second piece in our continued look back at the Boston Celtics championship season… in an effort to truly appreciate the efforts of those involved.
Doc Rivers is a nice guy. And even that was fodder for criticism around here.
The way people told it, the media was too easy on Mr. Nice Guy to truly rip in to him for his transgressions. You name it, Doc was blamed for it. It went beyond rotations and play calling. At his lowest point, Doc was practically blamed for the turbulence on team flights.
But Doc sat there and took it. Because that's what a coach does. The coaching fraternity lives by a motto that is practically tattooed onto their foreheads before the whistle goes around their necks: None of the credit, all of the blame.
So Doc smiled and took it.
Even when the players were too young and impetuous to be as professional as a veteran NBA man wanted them to be.
Even when the players were too green and impatient to fully execute his plays.
Even when the only compliments that his biggest critics could throw his way were so back handed, they'd make Roger Federer proud.
But with a veteran team of seasoned professionals, Doc Rivers could lay certain expectations at their feet with the knowledge that a true team can handle its own business… without the coach having to hold everyone's hand. And he could be direct and critical and know that his stars wouldn't crumble under the weight of his words.
This is not to say that Doc doesn't have his weaknesses. He, as do we all, most certainly has faults. But for this team, at this time, his faults barely came into play. Doc is a pro's coach. He knows when to press and when to back off. He knows when to take over and when to let his assistnats teach. He allows mega-stars their space without allowing them to do what they want. And he knows the X's and O's.
A year ago, Doc would get destroyed when his team came out of a time out looking disjointed. "THAT'S what Doc drew up?" we'd hear. Yet this year, The Celtics had one of the highest scoring percentages on out-of-bounds plays. What changed? Not the plays.
Paul Pierce credits Doc Rivers with sticking by him… which he did. He could have given up on a young guy who had gotten a little too selfish and cocky for his own good. But Doc scolded, then mended the fence. Now Pierce is the Finals MVP.
Kevin Garnett says Doc Rivers is among the best motivators he's known. The story of the new "Big 3" rolling in the duck boat before the season began is now a well-told piece of Celtics history. So is "ubuntu," which the Celtics shouted at mid-court, covered with sweat, tears and confetti after celebrating a championship. No, Doc's not perfect. But he did the perfect job being the perfect coach for this team. And for that, Doc, we appreciate the job you've done in helping us achieve the ultimate goal… an NBA title.
(Photo: Getty Images)
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