When it comes to creating lists or ranking things like "Best Death Metal Songs of the 1990's" or "Biggest Stiffs Ever to Play in the NBA," there is always room for subjective debate. People love lists. They love rankings. There are power rankings on every sports blog site for everything. One type of list that pops up every so often in all fields of work is the "Most Powerful People of (City, Business, Industry) X." Yesterday the great Paul Flannery of WEEI.com tweeted out a link to Boston Magazine's "The 50 Most Powerful People in Boston in 2012." Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers was ranked 37th. Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and any other owner were not ranked… at all.
In comparison, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was ranked 17th with Boston Red Sox majority owners John Henry and Tom Werner coming in just behind him at 18th. Bill Belichick was not on this list, amazingly. Bobby Valentine, while dominating sports radio talks airwaves, is not on this list. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is not on this list although he does make his money in Buffalo, NY. Claude Julien, fresh off leading the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972, is not on this list. So what does any of this mean?
This grabbed my attention mainly because I found it fascinating that Doc has more power than the folks that you know, OWN the team. Granted, this is just a random list which was created by talking to people around the city:
After talking to scores of insiders across the area, we ranked the city’s heavy hitters and examine power in all its forms — from political muscle and business influence to cultural capital and socialite networking.
According to the published list, that's how it was determined. I'm not certain this really means anything, but even the perception that Doc is the most powerful person in the organization is a little telling. It could also show just how important he will be when it's time for the C's to recruit free agents, or even keep their own, like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen on lower, short-term deals.
It's all relative of course, but I'm not sure there is another coach in the NBA, or sports even, that have this power over the owner, or perceived power anyway. Perhaps Greg Popovich has it in San Antonio. If Bill Belichick doesn't have it in New England, I doubt any coach in the NFL does. Tony LaRussa might have had it in MLB, but he resigned. I can't even name 2/3 of the coaches in the NHL so I won't even pretend to have a clue there. But more powerful than the guys that own the team? The ones that pay his healthy salary?
Wyc Grousbeck has co-managed venture capital funds with Highland Capital Partners totaling nearly $2 BILLION, has been involved with medical technology as well as being a venture capital lawyer in Silicon Valley. Steve Pagliuca is a private equity investor with Bain Capital, which is kind of powerful in Boston. Oh, he also ran for something called senator of Massachusetts in 2009 which is somewhat prestigious. Just a little amazing to think Doc is more "powerful" than either of them.
The point is that Doc is a huge part of this franchise. As the Celtics march forward to the 'Post-New-Big-3-Era,' this is an important aspect to keep in mind. Obviously great players are the reason why teams are great but to already have that influencial coach in place is big, and is one less thing to worry about. Watch closely during C's games and you can see the number of players on other teams that converse with Doc. Sure, it happens with other coaches but from my general observations it's not as much. No, I don't have a list that ranks such a thing or a stat that keeps track of Doc's high-five with an opposing player in comparison with other coaches ratio. But the respect and influence he seems to have is real.
For a team facing so many questions and uncertainties in the immediate and long term future, it's great to know that they have Doc signed long term. After all, he did start the "I Am A Celtic" marketing campaign whether he realizes it or not. Look at that, even when it's unintentional, his influence is still pretty powerful.