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"In some ways it's very enjoyable. I know it sounds crazy because it's a group that you've had to like get your hands dirty. I mean, really, you've had to dive into this group, and you know, push buttons, and get on different guys that you never thought you would have to. In some ways it's been very difficult but in some ways it's been a joyous challenge, I guess you could say..."

- Doc Rivers (on the challenge of coaching the Boston Celtics)
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I'd hire him as my life coach, if I could afford him.

Didn't matter if all he taught me was confined to the game of basketball. For crying out loud, the good old doctor, if you've ever heard him do his locker room speeches and fast paced 20 second timeout huddles, you'd notice that most of the words he "preaches", can also be used in the game of life.

It's not completely accurate, but some of his words that stuck in my mind (this postseason) were:

"Do you see what he's (LeBron James) doing? We can't do that. We can win this game. We can do this. But we got to do it together ... alright? Together, together, together!"

"First of all, we're going to win this game. But we're not going to do it with a 10-point shot. We'll take it one possession at a time."

"So he's (Kobe Bryant) making shots. Listen. We don't have to panic. We're defending him well. Remember, it's only 2 points when he scores. It's not 10. Trust each other out there and continue playing hard ... play your game."

"When you're out there (on the floor) tonight, just remember ... trust each other. When you trust each other, you play free. When you play free, good things happen."

"I believe in you guys."

Perhaps you have your own dose of memorable quotes in the "Rivers Religion" manual, but I'm sure you appreciate what this man has done for the city of Boston, its players, the organization, and the millions of fans worldwide.

And a huge portion of it can be felt at a personal level.

Credit goes to Doc for being able to handle a bunch of egos, know the exact buttons to push for each player (and when to do it), and mould them into a group that I would go far as saying - is the best example of team basketball.

I stumbled onto a blog quote earlier today that praised Boston: "There are 30 teams in the NBA, but ironically, there's only 1 team."

In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, they set an NBA record for most number of consecutive playoff games in one season without having the same player lead the team in scoring in consecutive games (17, ending in the Game 6 East Finals vs Orlando).

That's probably what Celtic basketball is all about, but then again - remember, it was Doc Rivers who re-established the spirit of team play, by coming up with his "brand new ancient" philosophy in the form of Ubuntu.

Jeff Sack's simple description (if you recall) in Slam Dunk Central, summarizes it best:

"Ubuntu is a South African word, it’s loose English translation is unity, but that barely scratches the surface of the meaning of the word. Ubuntu means sacrificing personal gains for the good of the whole. We have sayings that reflect the same thing in the USA, 'United we stand, divided we fall'; 'We must all hang together, or we will all hang separately.'" 

Since the summer of 2007, the Boston Celtics have hung together, and have never been the same. Probably without Rivers and Ubuntu, egos would have collided, the team focus might have been misguided, and we would not have been able to raise Banner 17 in 2008, give a dramatic playoff run and push the Magic to the limit (without KG) in 2009, and sacrifice everything but belief by pushing (not the Lakers) themselves to a Game 7 - falling short ... but not without pride and honor.

Now that he's back (honoring the last year of his contract) for what could possibly be his final hurrah with the team in bleeding green, fans everywhere can rejoice - even in the midst of uncertainty in the Boston line-up (and for that matter, the rest of the other 29 teams as well).

Yes, it matters to a point, but consider the coach as the foundation and cornerstone of a team's success.

And we got Doc Rivers.

Gerald Alden 7/05/2010 05:02:00 AM Edit
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7 Responses so far.

  1. Bailey says:

    Great post Gerlad! Doc is definitely one of the greatest coaches in Celtics history. As a note, I'd like to say that the Doc/Pierce image is one of my favorite pictures as well.

  2. TRACIE! says:

    I seriously love Doc. I remember every single one of those quotes you posted. He is the heart and soul and GLUE of that team. We'll be sad to see him go after this year. We'll be very hard pressed to find another coach that does what he does.

  3. RoswellSounds says:

    What a beautiful article...

    I learned so much with Doc and the C´s. And like you said, not only about basketball, but about life itself. About how we proceed with other people, and what can we do to improve the relationship between each other, and as a group. Leaving egos behind, with a strong sense of trust. A powerful unity or "thogheterness" born of trust, love and respect... 1-2-3 UBUNTU!

    There´s a fantastic article & interview with Doc Rivers and a fellow student named Sthepanie Russell (who presented the UBUNTU concept to Doc) in Marquette University´s magazine page. Maybe someone should create a link to that interview...

  4. I just got goosebumps all over when I read this. This is why more than anything else this offseason, it's the thought of him leaving the celtics that troubled me the most.

    Of course, he also said once (or probably many times over) that, "We are unbeatable together."

  5. Karl says:

    Nicely done. There isn't a better coach for this particular Celtics team than Doc Rivers.

  6. Thanks guys for the compliments.. as of this comment, RayRay has signed back with the Cs and we're getting our Big 3 back!

    I believe Doc Rivers definitely had a lot to do with that...

    @RoswellSounds: yup, saw the video at YouTube.. real great! if I don't add it up (or it isn't here yet at Celtics Life, might add it up to my page... thanks!

    @Denizen: I've seen your blogs and good to know you're from the Philippines too.. ;)

  7. Bohemian says:

    Very nice job Gerald, beautifully written!

    Doc Rivers is awesome, glad to see him back. His coaching strategies have improved in the last years, he is the master at motivating players, always polite with the press. True class act.

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