The general perception and memory of certain moments in history is made by the media’s angle of events. LeBron James will forever be a traitor to some for leaving, as a free agent, from Cleveland to Miami, while in Boston’s eyes, Ray Allen is a traitor. So how will the Celtics view Doc Rivers, who made his move mid-contract, demanding to leave and join the Clippers?
Truth is painful, but loyalty has died a long time ago, at least in the NBA. The teams do whatever they can to make money and win titles. Some care more about the other, and it also changes over the years. Those are the two concerns leading players most of the time when they make their choices in picking new teams, or sticking with old ones: Best financial offer, and best place to win as much as possible.
Being a key player, playing with friends also comes into the equation, but winning and earning money are the two biggest factors. For some reason, people still see James as the bad guy for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it’s possible the media played it out that way because of the backlash against the decision.
Ray Allen? Boston has a strong national-media prominence, and by leaving to the team that has beaten the Celtics in the past two postseasons, he became a traitor. Kevin Garnett did his usual tough guy, insulted child talk to the media to intensify the situation. But Allen chose less money for a better opportunity to win rings, but that wasn’t the whole story.
Rajon Rondo doesn’t like to reveal too much of himself to the media, but there’s a reason Doc Rivers left, and there’s a reason Ray Allen couldn’t stand being around him anymore. Rivers made his first choice by siding with Rondo in the backcourt debate, even benching Allen when he came back from injury. That was enough for the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA, so he “betrayed” Boston by leaving to a place where he’d be treated better, while making less money, but has the chance to be an NBA champion again.
LeBron James? He wanted to win. He wanted to play with great players, who also happen to be friends of his. So he chose the Miami Heat, adding Chris Bosh with him to join Dwyane Wade, in what has turned out to be a huge success so far: three NBA finals, two NBA titles.
Doc Rivers? When he signed the five year, $35 million contract two years ago, he knew that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen aren’t getting any younger. He knew that the trajectory course was giving Rajon Rondo the keys to the kingdom. And he knew it was going to become some sort of rebuilding project, possibly a short one, at some point.
So he got to that point, and panicked. He didn’t like what he saw, and decided he’ll do anything to get away from the rotting situation the Celtics have become. Rivers backed out of his contract, but not really. He’ll still be making $7 million a season on a team in a much better situation than the Celtics, because he couldn’t face a reality he knew was coming, and had a part in creating it.
For now, Rivers’ move isn’t being portrayed negatively. Give it some time, and especially a bad start to the season for the Celtics, and it’ll look very different, and rightfully so.