There are two villains in the fall of the Boston Celtics over the last season from Conference finalists to one of the worst teams in the NBA: Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo, each making things worse in his own way.
Rondo is simply himself, which isn’t the easiest player to get along with. It drove Ray Allen out of town, which began the collapse that was bound to happen at some point, but it was enabled by Doc Rivers, who didn’t read the signs on the wall and seeing how the chemistry between the older big three might be more important to the team than having Rondo becoming their leader.
However, Rivers messed up badly later on, as he took on a five-year contract knowing it’ll include a rebuild at some point, only deciding he isn’t going to go through with it, asking to leave and then changing his mind and then asking to leave again, which resulted in the Celtics breaking up the team that reached two NBA finals and probably had another playoff run in them.
It dragged out to a point where there were bound to be hurt feelings. The truth was this: I really didn’t want to go through a rebuild. I’ve been through three – when I first got to Orlando, and then when Grant Hill went down again. And I had been through one in Boston. It’s easy to say, ‘Just do it,’ but for a coach, it’s brutal. Showing up, getting your ass kicked, it’s brutal.
It takes a lot out of you. At the end of the year, when we lost, I had full intentions of doing it. The more I kept thinking about it, I knew it wasn’t in me again. At least not there again. But when the deal first fell apart, I told Danny Ainge ‘I’ll coach again here, I’ll come back.’ And then, a day later, I told him: I don’t know if I can. That’s how wishy-washy I was. But when I said that, Danny said, “OK, let me get back to work and get this thing done.
Rivers tried to make it about the Celtics wanting to move in a different direction at first, but it was always about him wanting to escape a situation he helped create. The Boston Celtics are now headed into a ‘tanking’ season, while Rivers has a roster that might be good enough to finish on top of the Western Conference.
In a league and sport that’s about taking care of yourself first, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Rivers pulled this off. However, you expect some more honesty from a head coach that usually carries himself with plenty of dignity and too much self importance.