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Rivers juggling two roles

His job not ideal for family life

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Celtics made their first trip of the season here to face the Magic last night, meaning that Doc Rivers returned home for the first time this season in a work capacity.

To the best of his recollection, though, he has booked a private plane to Orlando at least a half-dozen times this season to see his wife, Kris, and four children. He says he returns to Boston around 1 a.m. so he can get a good night's rest before the next day's practice. To date, Rivers has missed just one practice and no regular-season games this season.

When the season ends, Rivers will spend most of the summer in Orlando, returning to Boston for draft and summer league obligations. His assistants regularly work out players at the Celtics' training facility during the offseason.

Even by NBA standards, this long-distance arrangement is unusual. And Rivers would be the first to admit it is far from ideal.

''I made the choice that I'm just going to spend a ton of money and go back and forth on planes," said Rivers. ''It could be six [times]. It could be more.

''I usually make it back by 1 a.m. Days off I'll go home some, too. I can't miss [the kids'] games. Any games that I can see, I should see. And even though it's taxing on me, it's the right thing to do.

''It's no fun. It's not easy, but it's what I'm involved in and there's no way around it. It was the right choice for my family. It was a terrible choice for me."

That said, it is logical to wonder whether Rivers believes coaching the Celtics is right for him now, or whether returning to broadcasting might not be a more appealing option. Time spent in Boston has become more difficult with the Celtics underachieving this season. Time spent away from Orlando has become more difficult with his two oldest children, Jeremiah and Callie, nearing the end of stellar high school athletic careers.

When asked if he has reached a point where he thinks he should have stayed in broadcasting, Rivers said, ''Well, you think about it every once in a while. I think that's human. But I love coaching this team. Obviously, as far as wins and losses, it's been no fun. But I still like this opportunity.

''But then, when you think about your family and all that, you sit down sometimes and say, 'Geez, this is tough. You've got a tough job right now and your family life is tough.' So, nothing is easy. But I kind of knew that coming into it.

''There's times when you miss your family and you think, 'Boy, how long can you do this?' Those are the times when something happens at the house . . . There's a teacher issue at home and your wife calls you and tells you all the things that aren't going well. She vents to me. That's the way it has to be."

Rivers wishes he could be at home to help when problems arise. Instead, he must deal with the myriad problems in Boston -- where some of his players are not much older than Jeremiah. Rivers acknowledges the team's difficulties naturally get him ''down emotionally," but also said the criticism does not bother him.

''I don't mind it," said Rivers. ''I embrace it because I know if I can fight through this, if we can get this team through this, the upside of it will be phenomenal. It will be well worth it. That's what keeps you going."

Celtics CEO Wyc Grousbeck, who takes pride in heading a group of mostly local owners, declined to comment on Rivers's frequent trips home. From his time as Phoenix's head coach, executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge knows how difficult a coaching career can be on family life even when everyone lives in the same city.

Ainge does not think the frequent travel interferes with Rivers's ability to do his job.

''He does a good job of balancing it, but you can't deny it's difficult," said Ainge. ''Coaching is hard enough by itself."

When Callie finishes high school next year, Rivers would consider relocating his family, but Orlando will remain a home base indefinitely.

''It's good to have roots," said Rivers. ''Throughout my career, I've always just moved the family, moved the family. We made a conscious choice when we built the house in Orlando that, no matter what happens, we're going to establish roots there. We might move and rent a house somewhere else, but we're always going to come back."

Coaching an unpredictable team, Rivers knows it's good to have at least one sure thing.

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