Doc Rivers reflects on leaving money at the Staples Center
Boston will always have a special place inside former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers' heart.
The now Clippers head coach was in Boston last week working with his charity "Hoop Dreams" and talked to Sports Illustrated's Justin Barrasso about his Clippers team and some old memories about his time in green.
The most popular, and a personal favorite of mine, was when he collected up money from each of his players while the team was on the West Coast in 2010 and hide it in a the locker room at the Staples Center (ironically his current home court).
“I started asking for money from all the players,” explained Rivers. “Getting money from Kevin Garnett was like pulling a tooth. I said, ‘Just give me a hundred dollars! That’s all I want!’ Then finally I told him what I was doing, and Kevin wanted to pay for everyone, saying, ‘I’ll pay for him, I’ll pay for him, I’ll pay for him.’ Then I made them all get all out of the locker room, and I lifted [assistant coach] Kevin Eastman up and we found this one spot where we thought security would never go. When we played the first game of the Finals there, the players got off the bus and went straight in the locker room. We were lucky that it was there."
At the time when Doc collected the money, the Celtics were slumping and were "losing hope" according to Rivers. He called the move a "gut" call.
That story is so legendary and truly amazing that the C's were able to turn it around, make it to the Finals and play the team that Doc predicted it was going to be. Obviously the story doesn't have a true happy ending with the Celtics losing the series after leading into the fourth quarter of game 7, but I'm over it I swear.
What did make me laugh out loud in Barrasso's piece was the quote he put in from Doc talking about a call he got from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
“But the funniest call during that was when [Gregg Popovich] called me and asked, ‘Is there money in the San Antonio locker room?’”
Rivers also said that he has two main regrets about his time in Boston. The first was in 2009 when his Celtics team failed to get back to the finals after Kevin Garnett's injury.
“We had a better start in 2009 than we did in 2008,” said Rivers. “I didn’t think anyone could beat us. But Kevin Garnett going down changed everything. Kevin was never the same in 2009 after his injury. He was still good, but he was never the same. Injuries are part of it, but we could have had a real run, and that was taken away.”
The second regret was when his time in Boston ran out and it was the actual time it took for him to make the decision is what he feels like was unnecessary.
“If you remember, it took me like six weeks to make a decision to leave,” said Rivers. “It was way too long. If I made any mistake, it was that I couldn’t make up my mind. I knew that I didn’t want to go through a rebuilding process. I’d already done that twice. My decision was between walking away or if I still wanted to coach."
Despite how aggravating the exit was, Rivers is still looked at fondly by Celtics fans and is one of the better coaches this franchise has ever had. Clearly that is saying something with this team.