Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Over lunch in a Century City restaurant last week, Rivers considered the irony of it all and laughed. For weeks after the trade in 1991, Rivers refused to speak with Clippers president Andy Roeser. He played a season and moved on to the New York Knicks. All these years later, Roeser had come recruiting Rivers again. This time, everything had changed. The franchise’s commitment had transformed, and the Clippers were offering Rivers the power, pay, personnel and locale to chase championships.
“The risk is all mine,” Rivers, 51, said. “To go to an organization that hasn’t won but [two] playoff series in their entire history, in a town where the other team is the best franchise in sports history – that’s risk.
“But the opportunity – for me – gives me life. If we get this right, it will be the story of stories to tell. At this point in my life, the gamble is worth it.”
From the late summer sunlight to the talent marching into training camp, the Clippers have reinvigorated Rivers. And yet through all the deft work undertaken to upgrade the Clippers’ roster this summer, Rivers found himself talking far too much about his departure in Boston, too little about his arrival in Los Angeles.
Et tu, Doc? Ouch. If for no other reason than for this Doc/Celtics incessant hoop soap opera needing to end, the NBA season needs to begin. I think we all reached our breaking points with this story about three months ago, but man Doc just delivered quite the boot to the groin. Now, he could have just happened to make that statement in a sort of passing way as he was speaking. But Doc is an intelligent guy and spent the better part of a decade in Boston, as head coach of the Celtics. So when he states the arch rival Lakers as “the best franchise in sports history” well, I’m sorry, that’s no coincidence. Consider them more subtle/not-so-subtle shots fired from one side of the coast to another in the drama that will never end.
Doc again gets a little more into why he left, reiterating how he dreaded another rebuild:
“The truth was this: I really didn’t want to go through a rebuild. I’ve been through three – when I first got to Orlando, and then when Grant Hill went down again. And I had been through one in Boston. It’s easy to say, ‘Just do it,’ but for a coach, it’s brutal. Showing up, getting your ass kicked, it’s brutal.”
“It takes a lot out of you. At the end of the year, when we lost, I had full intentions of doing it. The more I kept thinking about it, I knew it wasn’t in me again. At least not there again.
“But when the deal first fell apart, I told [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge], ‘I’ll coach again here, I’ll come back.’ And then, a day later, I told him: I don’t know if I can. That’s how wishy-washy I was. But when I said that, Danny said, “OK, let me get back to work and get this thing done.’”
Wishy-washy? Nah, hardly Doc. I also found the whole “at least not there again” quote interesting as well. So he would have been fine rebuilding somewhere else, but not somewhere he supposedly loved to be? Ok then.
Doc went on to discuss some other rough Celtics related memories:
Perhaps this will change with time, but he still cannot walk into the Staples Center without thinking about the Celtics’ Game 7 loss to the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. The Celtics lost center Kendrick Perkins in Game 6, and lost the interior to the Lakers in the final minutes of the series. After the final buzzer, Rivers walked out of public’s sight, into the tunnel and the lingering image of the coach remains that man doubled over, like someone had kicked him in the stomach.
Two weeks ago, Rivers had dinner with his old assistant coach, Tom Thibodeau, and they talked for an hour about that series, that game, that lost opportunity for a second title.
“We never mentioned the championship that we did win together,” Rivers said. “Not once. That locker room scene was the saddest moment of my basketball life.”
Isn’t it funny how that works? We’ve all had the discussion with other friends/fans about how brutal the final moments of Game 7, 2010 were. But at least I can recall almost every time the conversation ending something like this: “Well, at least we got one in 2008 and man, it was an amazing ride.” Doc apparently can’t even bring himself to remember that. Obviously it’s different for coaches and players but hey it might help to at least give it a shot. Anyway, it’s too bad it had to end here like this for Doc. I understand he’s simply trying to answer the questions he’s asked and trying to be cordial to every single media member that wants to discuss it with him. But perhaps he should take a cue from some of his ex-players (KG, Rondo) and simply choose to not to talk about it. Because every time he does, he just makes it worse. Enjoy that sunshine Doc and enjoy living in the city that holds “the best franchise in sports history.” Although fans here thought you actually presided over that franchise for the last ten years or so. Apparently you felt it was 3,000 miles away.
The rest of the links:
The Boston Globe – All eyes on new Celtics coach Brad Stevens (Sunday Notes)