Yes, there was a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers (who won) and the Boston Celtics, but most of the attention was focused on Doc Rivers coming back to play against the team he coached for nine seasons. Finally, after months of denial, spins and smearing of the truth, he also admitted that he quit on the team because he made the selfish and right decision for him, not the honorable one.
When Doc Rivers signed a five year extension in 2011, he knew that at some point, it would include a rebuilding phase that would mean either giving up on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (who left after he did) and going through at least one bad year with young players and Rajon Rondo as their leader.
As the team was falling apart around him, Rivers sought a way out, and found one, going to the Los Angeles Clippers. Danny Ainge thought Rivers was staying, but it turned out Doc had other ideas, and eventually Ainge didn’t force anything on him. Rivers left for a first round draft pick, but not without trying to cover up his tracks. He got angry when Bill Simmons called him out, and when anyone mentioned he quite on the Celtics. He tried to make it sound like he was pushed out, not the other way around.
Before coming back to Boston, where fans don’t hate him but like any other, resent the fact that they’re being lied to, he decided to clear up some things, speaking with Felger & Mazz radio show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. Finally, he owned up to simply not wanting to be on a rebuilding team.
I did at the end of the day. 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.
In terms of his own personal agenda, he made the right move. He’s on the better team, winning 96-88 in Boston. Chris Paul scored 22 points, Blake Griffin added 21 and Blake Griffin scored 18 as well. For the Celtics, there was Jeff Green with 29, Jordan Crawford with 20 and Brandon Bass with 17. The bench added only 4 points, as the differences in depth and talent eventually came shining through.
The Celtics aren’t in a terrible place. Brad Stevens, early on at least, has them playing good basketball, which is even enough for a 10-14 record (better than some expected from them) which is quite good in the Eastern conference, as terrible as it might be. There’s a good future not too far away if things go well for Boston. The Clippers? They’re in a bit better shape to win, and win now. The problem? They’re not good enough, even with Rivers head coaching them, to beat the Thunder and Spurs of the world; not right now.
Doc Rivers should have just said he quit on the team months ago, right when he left, instead of lying and covering up his reasons. He never should have told Danny Ainge he wants to be in a rebuilding process when he clearly had no intention to. It would have taken away all of the negative attention brought with his visit, despite the applause he got from the Celtics fans, who probably forgot about the bad years under him as well, finding it easier to remember when he had Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen brought in to make him look like a better head coach than he might actually be.