"I don't give a (expletive) what I do the rest of my life, I'm always going to be a Celtic"
The Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett sat down for a very interesting interview with Clippers coach Doc Rivers as his team gets ready to take on the Celtics this evening in LA.
Of course, Doc discussed his reconciliation with leaving the Celtics--a team he once aspired to be the "Gregg Poppovich" of. Kris Rivers was always more skeptical of Doc proclaiming his undying loyalty to Boston. "My wife would tell me all the time. She'd say, 'You love it there and I get that, but you know who you are. You need something,'" Doc recalls.
Rivers conceded that last summer was not the first time he considered making an exit out of Boston:
"I left three times. I really did. The year we won it, I was done after the year," he said. "I was going through my dad thing (his father's passing), and I was just going to go home and do nothing. In 2010, I was definitely gone. After the last game, I almost said it. I was very close to saying it in the press conference after we lost to the Lakers. I was emotional and I was just going to leave. After the Miami loss (in 2011) when I said, 'I am a Celtic,' that's when I got defiant about not leaving. It's amazing how you go up and down. But I felt like I couldn't leave then. It wasn't the right time. We had Paul, Kevin and, at the time Ray, and I just thought it would be bad form. I couldn't do it to them." He shrugged and nostalgically added, "It's what you believe at that moment."
Doc talked about the difference between LA and Boston:
"Just the lifestyle is a big difference. In Boston, I was a walker. I was in the middle of a city, and it was awesome. I just walked. I would go into Abe and Louie's or Neptune Oyster and just go sit at the bar. You get to know the waiters and you get to know the people. LA is not like that. This is not a walking city. Here you just basically go out with your friends, and I have a lot of friends here from when I played for the Clippers. In Boston, I had a ton of friends, but I also met a ton of friends, because, to me, it was that type of city."
Of course, he had to address his departure from the Celtics over the summer:
"I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable with it, honestly. I don't think you can get comfortable with it. Danny and I did get together on it at the end, but I just thought after a while it got to the point of no return. It was just hard for me. I'm not sure anyone can understand. I fell in love with where I was at, but after the season I realized I just didn't want to get into the whole rebuilding thing. I didn't have it in me," he admitted. "Once I came to that conclusion, now I'm a mess. Do I stay and do it anyway? I thought about it and decided I just couldn't."
When reminded of the night earlier this season in which he returned to the Garden to a long and powerful ovation, Rivers's eyes grew moist. He continued to reminisce:
"I've never had that type of feeling for a place. I was in Atlanta eight years and it was great. Orlando is nice and playing for the Knicks was nice, but nothing like Boston. And I don't think I can ever get that again, no matter what I do. That's just hard. This will sound strange, but what I loved about losing in my first three years is the people (expletive) cared. When I'd be walking, a lady would come up to me and say, 'You've got to play Al Jefferson more,' or, 'Doc, Kendrick Perkins needs to run the floor.'I'm talking about ladies and older guys. I was walking down the street and a guy sitting next to his store says, 'You going to play Rondo tomorrow?' It was amazing, and I loved it. I'd stop and sometimes say, 'What do you think?'" He smiled and continued, "It was great. It wasn't because they were trying to be (expletives); they actually cared about their team. It's the same thing with the Red Sox. I'd sit on my balcony and watch people walk to work in a suit and tie and Red Sox hat. In Boston, it's not what's in vogue, it's for real."
Doc closed the interview with passion:
"I don't give a (expletive) what I do the rest of my life, I'm always going to be a Celtic. It'll never go away. I don't give a (expletive) what I do. I think even if I win 10 championships here, it's different when you win with the Celtics. There are only a few organizations in sports that have that history and have that following, and I was with one for nine years."
What are your thoughts on Doc?
Do you hate him for turning his back on promises?
Do you embrace him as a truly good guy who had to move on?