Doc Rivers: Embodying Celtic Pride

Doc Rivers is about to embark on his 9th season as Celtics' coach.  For all you historians out there, that means that this year he will be surpassing Tom Heinsohn and moving into second place all-time in games coached throughout the Celtics' illustrious history.  That means excluding the legendary Red Auerbach, Doc Rivers has patrolled the Boston sideline more than anyone.  While a lot has changed over the past 25 years for the Boston Celtics, there's one man who continues to manifest what Celtics' pride has always been about, Doc Rivers.

Ever since he arrived, Doc has humbly given praise to the culture of the Celtics.  He spoke of how profound his interaction was with Red when he was still around.  He's routinely coerced Celtics legends (and even guys not as well known) to drop by a Celtics' practice to share their knowledge with today's players.  He has gone above and beyond in that aspect regarding his time with the C's, embracing the history and revering it.

I for one was very happy when the Celtics didn't fire Doc after that lousy 2007 season.  I'm glad Danny Ainge and the Celtics' front office showed the same respect to Doc that he has shown Boston since he's been there.  To give him a chance to coach a team with some actual guys who could play.  For all those that criticize his in-game substitutions, or not playing rookies enough (which is a total myth by the way), I love everything about the man as a coach.

You got him DJ!
However it wasn't always like that for me.  I'll admit: I couldn't stand him as a player.  When he was on the Hawks he was a rival of the Celtics.  I still remember watching that 88 semifinal series vs Atlanta.  Boston winning that gutsy Game 6 on the road in the Omni.  I loved every bit of it and loved nothing more to see Doc Rivers, Kevin Willis and the annoying Cliff Levingston, lose that chance to close Boston out at home.  I also detested Rivers on the Knicks, mostly because of how arrogant his coach Pat Riley was and how I thought guys like Anthony Mason and John Starks were subpar players, who pushed and shoved their way to make up for a lack of ability.  The Bulls knocking them off in 1993 was arguably my most favorite non-Celtics playoff moment since I've followed the league.

But then things changed.  I didn't mind Doc on the Spurs and was a bit disappointed when they fell short to the Rockets in 1995 (mostly for David Robinson).  Then he became the coach of Orlando, winning Coach of the Year and making guys like Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace into very good basketball players.  When John Carroll was let go after his interim head coaching job in 2004, Doc was the guy I wanted.

Now that he's been here, he's the coach players most want to play for according to a recent Sports Illustrated poll of players.  He makes Boston an alluring destination and he sells guys on the chance to make their own mark in Celtics history.  In fact other than Ray Allen's shocking decision, there's not one guy I can think of that wanted to leave Boston since Doc's been here.  That's a testament to Doc Rivers.  His ability to communicate to today's players and skill to manage personalities.

To Doc Rivers, thanks for being coach of the greatest franchise in NBA history.  For imbuing Celtics' Pride and carrying on the tradition from teams of years past.  And thank you, for being the selfless and wonderful coach and person that you are, always embodying Celtics' pride and respectfully revering the team's tremendous past.

No one should ever forget how great Doc has been to the city of Boston and the organization.  Here's hoping he's here for at least another 9 years, and hopefully even more.