Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Celtics have won 17 NBA
Championships in their storied history.
Only six men have coached a Celtics championship team. Names like Red
Auerbach, Bill Russell, K.C. Jones and Tommy Heinsohn are in the Hall of Fame
and icons in the city of Boston, a city with its fair share of sports legends.
Doc Rivers is one of those six men to guide the Celtics to a title.
That should get him iconic status in Beantown, but there was a little bit of
acrimony in this divorce. Rivers didn't want to stick around for G.M. Danny
Ainge's rebuilding plan, so the Celtics traded him for a first-round pick to
the Los Angeles Clippers this past offseason.
On Wednesday, Rivers will take his new team to face his old city.
"Wednesday will be nice, very nice for me. I put nine years in there, nine
wonderful years," Rivers said Monday night. "It'll be great to see, hell I
wouldn't say all my players, but there's not a lot left, but there are some.
It'll be great to see all the people that have worked there. I made some great
friends that will be friends for life."
Rivers singled out security workers and trainers and did acknowledge that most
of his former players are gone. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are tarnishing
their legacies in Brooklyn, while Ray Allen had the good sense to abandon the
sinking U.S.S. Celtics two seasons ago for the Miami Heat.
Rajon Rondo is still in Boston, but hasn't played because of a knee injury.
There are certainly some other Celtics who were under Rivers' tutelage, but
his core, much like himself, moved on.
"They still have a lot of good players left. I'm not sure that's what Danny
wanted, but that's what they have," joked Rivers. "They're talented. When
Rondo comes back, if he comes back and who knows that because of the knee
thing, they're going to be a playoff team."
Being a playoff team in the Eastern Conference! Why didn't Doc stay for that?
Rivers mentioned Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and Jeff Green
by name. His "not sure that's what Danny wanted" quip fell at the heart of the
Can you blame Rivers for not wanting to stay with a rebuilding team? The heart
side can't, but the head side could. Rivers had a $7 million a season contract
to coach the Celtics and could've been forced to honor it. Instead, Ainge
granted Rivers his wish and got a neat little play toy in return.
There have been barbs back and forth between the two about the situation, but
nine years is a long time. Rivers is clearly one of the top handful of coaches
in the NBA, but the C's haven't struggled under new manchild Brad Stevens.
They are under .500, yes, but are the Atlantic Division leaders. If your goal
is a completely new direction for your team, why not jettison all former
remnants? Ainge found no trouble shipping Pierce and Garnett away, so it might
have made more sense to not want Rivers around in the first place.
Rivers seemed to be a man genuinely excited to see the behind-the-scenes folks
in Boston. These "friends for life" mean a lot to Rivers and Doc should
receive a positive reaction Wednesday night.
His new team will have his back in the best way they know how - win the game.
"It's one of those things where, as players, we want to rally around him and
win this game for him. It's important when guys come back to a place where
they used to play for years, or coach for years whatever it is, it's a good
feeling to come back and have a successful trip," said All-Star Blake Griffin.
"We need to be locked in, not just for that reason. Boston is playing really
well and we need wins right now on this road trip."
The Clippers are 2-2 on a seven-game road trip thanks to a win in Philadelphia
that was closer than it ever needed to be. L.A. won 94-83 due to dominant
performances from Rivers' Big Three 2.0 - Chris Paul, Griffin and DeAndre
"It's just a work in progress and it will be all year," Rivers said. "We've
got to keep grinding and can't worry about anything."
The Clippers are without starting shooting guard J.J. Redick and key bench
piece, Matt Barnes. They will add to the insanity of Lob City with free-agent
At 14-8, the Clips own the fifth-best record in the Western Conference, which
means they'd own the East outside Miami and Indiana. Rivers' team is on top in
the Pacific Division and should win that title for the second straight season.
But Wednesday's matchup isn't about CP3, Blake or even the Celtics. It's about
a man who will take a hard-earned victory lap through Boston.
There are probably some in Boston who feel Rivers deserted them. It's a way to
look at it, and a somewhat valid one. But Wednesday is just about a man who
wants to see some friends, some friends for life.
The Sports Network