Doc Rivers says he'd be "surprised" if booed in Boston; disagrees with Jason Kidd's use of Paul Pierce
Reunion week continues when the L.A. Clippers come to TD Garden on Wednesday night. A hot topic among Celtics fans and media is whether former coach Doc Rivers will be booed or not for the way he made his exit from Boston.
Doc spoke with Felger & Mazz on Tuesday, and he addressed the sentiment that many Celtics fans felt he walked out on the team.
“I did (walk out) at the end of the day,” Rivers admitted. “You make choices in
your life, it happens… It was a very difficult decision for me to make;
whether to walk away and sit a couple of years, which was another way I
was leaning, or if the right job presented itself to walk away and do
that. I was afforded a great opportunity here with the Clippers. This is the
first time I’ve been able to coach a team and run a team. This may work, it may not work. It’s a far bigger gamble for
me than anyone else. So I thought it was the right time to take it.”
Doc knows how many Celtics fans perceived his departure. But he doesn't think that should have an effect on his reception upon his return. When asked about if he was aware of the possibility of receiving a not-so-warm welcome, he said he would be surprised if it happens:
“Of course, but I would be surprised by it. I’m sure some will, but I
was booed at times as a coach,” said Doc. “That’s fine, but I don’t
anticipate that. I’d be surprised by that, and if it happens it happens.
I’d be disappointed by it, of course, but I’m a human being.”
While many fans questioned Doc's loyalty to Boston upon his departure, one thing is certain -- Doc will always be a loyal supporter of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. In fact, he went against the unspoken "brotherhood" of NBA coaches and publicly questioned Jason Kidd's use of Doc's former players in Brooklyn.
Rivers predicted that Pierce will play “another three years,” despite his early struggles.
“He can score anywhere,” Rivers said. “I think he was more
uncomfortable with the short minutes that they were (playing him), like
they did with Kevin. And that’s not Paul. Paul doesn’t work under those
type of minutes—at least, in my opinion he doesn’t. He’s a guy that
needs a rhythm to play. In Kevin’s case, on a 20-minute restriction, of
course his numbers are going to be down. So I think at some point, he
probably is going to have to play more minutes to improve, so he can get
a better rhythm himself.”
All these months later, and Rivers is still Pierce and Garnett’s
most passionate defender, his respect and affection coming through in
Call Doc whatever you want, but he was extremely passionate about his players and his team. I personally believe that he doesn't deserve anything less than a standing ovation in Boston, no matter how difficult his departure from Boston was for many people to swallow. He helped create the "ubuntu" culture that epitomized the Celtics and their success in recent years, and I personally am grateful for all of his hard work at the helm of the C's.
After Wednesday night's Clippers-Celtics game, Rivers will continue the spirit of reunion week when Los Angeles heads to Brooklyn to take on Pierce, KG, and the Nets on Thursday.