Clippers finally realize Doc Rivers’ mediocrity, fire him as GM

Okay everyone, lets take a trip down memory lane. I want to take it way back, back to a time that a lot of young C’s fans weren’t even alive for.  We’re going back to the 1980s fellas, when a budding Glenn Rivers was entering his professional basketball years.

Was Doc good at playing the game? Yeah, of course he was. He was a good, run of the mill player, but was he great? No, he was not. He has never been great at doing anything in the NBA, whether that be playing, coaching, or working in the front office.

And it all started in the 1982 FIBA World Championship, just after Doc left Marquette and declared for the NBA draft. He played well in the tournament, and actually led Team USA to the finals, averaging 17 points per game. He even received the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year award, and earned a spot on the Playboy All-America team that year.

While that’s all fine and dandy, none of it matters, because in the final seconds of that FIBA championship game, the dude blew it. The game literally came down to the final second, when USA was down by one point. Doc took a shot from the wing, at the buzzer, and missed! Even worse, the opponent was the damn USSR, mid Cold War! Where’s the clutch gene!? Thankfully the Miracle on Ice happened a few years earlier, proving our superiority over the Soviets, but still you’ve got to keep the momentum rolling. You can’t take one W against the rival and call it quits. So thanks to Glenn, we took a step back in the battle vs. Russia, and weren’t redeemed until Ivan Drago went down in ’85.

The next year in 1983, Rivers was drafted where IT4 was in the NBA draft: the last pick, which began a seemingly good NBA career. He averaged 11 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals over his 13 years. Those are good numbers. They’re Evan Turner numbers. And while I love Evan Turner and wish that the C’s re-signed him last year, his stats don’t prove him to be great, just like Doc’s don’t cement him in greatness.

In ’87, Doc had his best year, playing for the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 10 assists per game and made his one-hit wonder All-Star appearance. Whoopty-do, but what does it all mean, Basil? It means that he had one of the greatest finishers of all time on his team in The Human Highlight Film, Dominique Wilkins. If you put any average point guard on a team with ‘Nique, they’ll put up high assist numbers. Wilkins was absolutely lethal on the fast break, seeing as he’s one of the highest-flying dunkers of all-time, and averaged 29 PPG that season. Rivers admitted this objective truth, himself, when he said (via Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN):

As his point guard, it's the best. You knew on the fast break you were scoring. Nique could finish like no other in transition. People would tell me, 'Man, you can throw a lob pass.' I'd say, 'No, I was an awful lob passer. I was just throwing it to Nique.

Listen, I never used the word ‘awful’ to describe Doc Rivers. That was Doc Rivers, talking about Doc Rivers.  After 13 years with a few teams, Doc never rode in a parade or saw a banner being raised.

Which brings us to his inferior coaching career, where he’s snuck along because of a few good fortune cookies. We’ll start with his perennial season in 1999-2000, when he was hired by the Orlando Magic and won Coach of the Year. Coaches handed him the award because he took a team that was ranked poorly in the pre-season to a .500 record. Well, lets take a look at that team:

Notice anyone familiar? How about the big man growing an afro? That’s Ben Wallace. The short dude holding the basketball? Earl Boykins. A few other friendly faces include Bo Outlaw, Monty Williams, Ron Mercer, Darrell Armstrong, and Chucky Atkins. True, there’s no All-Star on the team that year, but that roster is nothing to sneeze at. They had talent, and a few young guys that would turn out to be top tier players in years to come.

After adding Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill the following year, the Magic made the playoffs three seasons in a row, but lost in the first round each time. And that’s all she wrote for Doc in Orlando, as he was fired the next season. A wise move that no other franchise has made since.

Then in 2004, the shadow started to stretch its creeping arms towards Boston. The sky darkened, the air became thick and musty, a stench hung over the Garden, and Doc Rivers was hired as the Celtics' head coach.

In his first year with the C’s, the team was stacked with fan favorites. I know you’ll all recognize some of these hounds:

We won the division, entered the playoffs as the 3 seed, and lost in Game 7, in the Garden, to Reggie Miller and the Pacers.

Then, all of the shit started to hit the fan. Antoine Walker was sent away in the largest trade in NBA history, the Truth became disgruntled, and it seemed as though Doc’s fraudulence had finally been discovered.

But once again, the basketball gods enforced their will to Doc’s benefit. In 2007, Ray Allen was traded to the Celtics, followed by Kevin Garnett, and we all know what happened after that: we raise Banner 17, spend the next few years in and out of the Finals/Conference Finals, and Doc Rivers is somehow viewed across the country as a good coach. Those 2008-2012 teams had three Hall of Famers on them. They literally could’ve gone with no coach at all and still would’ve made the Conference Finals each of those years. But alas, golden trophies and diamond rings blinded the world, and Doc remained in NBA prominence. 

Finally, in 2013 when #5 and #34 were traded to Brooklyn, Doc decided to take the easy way out. He didn’t want to rebuild; couldn’t rebuild, because remember, he’s not good at his job, so he abandoned his city and demanded a trade to one of the most star-studded teams in the NBA at the time: the LA Clippers. And what has become of the team? They've never made it to the finals, were defeated in the first round the past two seasons, and most recently lost one of the best point guards of all time in free agency because the situation at the Staples Center wasn’t working out. Was it because of Rivers and his continuous lackluster performance? Probably.

During his time as GM, Rivers wasn't able to secure any real studs. He basically signed old men who were on their way out (Josh Smith, Danny Granger, Antoine Jameson), or former Celtics players who he's worked with before (Nate Robinson, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis). I'd say his best move was his first: in 2013, he sent Eric Bledsoe to the Suns and got JJ Redick and Jared Dudley in return. I don't think he won the trade, obviously, seeing as Eric Bledsoe is a major league talent, but every other transaction he's made has been absolute booty, and at the time of this deal, Bledsoe was just blossoming into becoming too good to back up Chris Paul. My question is: why didn't Doc start Bledsoe at the two? Instead he added a worse shooting guard and another elderly wing man. There's no foresight in that move. His best transaction was one that hurt the team, which shows just how awful Rivers is at managing a roster.

It's no surprise that Doc was promoted to the front office when Donald Sterling still owned the team, because only an ignorant bozo like him would be blind enough to give Doc the reigns to a promising roster filled with All-Stars in their prime.  

So kudos to the Clippers for finally realizing Doc’s mediocrity.

Woj says that Doc was ‘freed’ of his duties? No, no, no. The city of Los Angelos was freed. Now Clippers fans can hope for a bright future, kind of like the one they’ve had for the past decade with CP3, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan, before it was squandered by a notoriously average NBA play caller. I’m personally glad that it all blew up in Doc's face. Now, he is forced to rebuild, and the C’s are sitting pretty in the East with an upgraded coach in Brad Stevens. Quite the Noonan decision by Doc Rivers, but it's what he deserves.

For the people’s sake, I hope that Doc Rivers is ‘freed’ of his coaching duties sooner rather than later, because that guy is a bum and always has been.

photo 1: Sports Illustrated
photo 2:
photo 3: Pure Basketball