“Doc (Rivers) creates a great environment, a very conducive environment for an NBA player. If you’re an NBA player, you want to play for a coach like Doc Rivers,” said Dooling. “But more so than Doc, I think the players really set the tone. When you have somebody who has the intensity, the work ethic and charisma of Kevin Garnett, and you compound that with the effort and sweet stroke of Ray Allen and the scoring ability of Paul Pierce –who is always in on days off – and then you have the quiet kind of presence with (Rajon) Rondo. You throw all that in a pot, and it makes a good gumbo.”
A-plus quote there, Keyon. Keep it up.
This chemistry all starts with KG.
(understatement alert in 3…2… )
He's the most intense player in that locker room, he's often been the best player on the court, and he's bought in to Doc Rivers from the second he set foot in Boston. When your best player, your most intense player, your emotional leader says he'd run through a brick wall for his coach, then you'd better be willing to follow him through that hole, or else he's going to have a problem.
Pierce is a half step behind KG in importance, because Pierce has not only been here forever, he's had his issues with Doc. Where KG has the attitude of the crazy Marine who will blindly die for his commanding officer, Pierce knows how Doc can relate to you on a personal level. Pierce's past issues with Doc, and their resolution, are a key ingredient to this gumbo. Without Pierce's story in this mix, you might just chalk up KG's devotion to insanity.
Those two, far more than anyone else on this team, are the reasons for Doc's clout. KG said it recently in an interview about his future: This is a players' league. Look at all the good coaches that have gotten tuned out over the years. Hell, it happened to Doc in Orlando. And while I'm sure he learned some lessons from it, it's obvious that the best of the best coaches aren't annointed until star players give their blessing. From there, the rest of the team falls in line.
Gregg Popovich is another great example. He is, to paraphrase from my favorite movie Shawshank Redemption, one of the toughest screws in the NBA. It's Pop's way or the highway, much like Doc runs the C's like Cuba. But when Tim Duncan falls in line, so does everyone else.
That's why the Celtics make a good gumbo. And it's another reason why the C's captured their lightning in a bottle while these other "Big 3" knock offs have had more struggles. Miami might have the best collection of talent, but their formula is still way off. Their gumbo sucks. Maybe the ingredients are a lot better and that might end up making for a good result anyway, but their recipe is terrible. The Celtics recipe was perfect. It's why they won in 2008, and it's why they're back in the division lead today. Never, ever, discount the importance of that level of chemistry.