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Doc Rivers: 'I was on my way, actually ... when the bomb exploded.'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff  April 16, 2013 01:14 PM

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WALTHAM -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers lives just blocks from where two bombs exploded Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 100 people.

"I always go down after practice and watch -- I’ve done it every year that we’ve been in town, because I live literally two blocks from the finish line," Rivers said before practice Tuesday.

"I was on my way, actually -- I had just gotten out of the tunnel -- when the bomb exploded. It’s just awful. It takes the joy out of sports -- because that’s what sports is supposed to bring is joy.

"You just saw the people running and the ambulances, just everything. It was hysteria."

He turned on the radio to learn what happened. With roads blocked off, Rivers estimated that it took him more than an hour to travel five blocks and get home.

"I just got a million texts," he said. "But again, my phone wasn’t working. On a lighter note, I’m not the best at returning texts anyways. Last night, my kids laughed, because I actually did. They knew.

"My daughter especially -- now I know who’s going to take care of me -- my daughter, I think she called or texted me like 16 times in a row. But I couldn’t -- you couldn’t get to them. Finally when I did, everything was good."

Rivers was told not to leave his building, but he watched from a window.

"You could see people wandering around, like the park -- a lot of people didn’t have places to go last night," he said. "And the park, there was a lot of people, you felt like -- the Common -- you could feel that, that they didn’t have anywhere to go. That was where a lot of people went. I had a bird’s-eye view of that."

More than anything, Rivers said, he was encouraged by what he saw.

"Being in the city, the one thing I will say, you’re just really proud to be part of Boston," he said. "I saw people who didn’t work for the police or anything like that, directing traffic, showing people where to go.

"I just thought the spirit of Boston was phenomenal last night. In a tragic event, it either separates you or brings you together. It clearly brought the city of Boston together, which was awesome.

"The city has responded. The city, it was awesome, watching people help people. I’m driving and I can see people helping people walk, helping go to the right places. This city has an amazing amount of spirit and I think that showed last night. And today still.

"Then you’re angry, too. I think that starts now. You really are. When you keep thinking about it. It does make you very angry at what happened. And that’s because you love the city, and love where you’re at. So that bothers you."

Is it tough to move on, to move it out of your mind? Of course, Rivers said.

"I don’t think you should get it out of your mind," he said. "I don’t think anyone’s going to get it out of their mind, it will be on your minds. Whether you were in the city or out of the city, you’re part of Boston. And if you’re part of this city -- or this country, for that matter -- it’s something that will be on your mind. And that’s fine.

"You put things in compartments, and that’ll happen for this hour and a half of practice. But it was a sad day yesterday, and it’s sad today, too. That’s part of life."

Rivers said it's important to return to a sense of normalcy.

"That’s what our city wants," he said. "I think that you can hear the police commissioner today talking about that. We want to return things as soon as possible back to normal because that tells whoever did this that you don’t stop the spirit of Boston.

"We are going to be back, we’re going to work the same, we’re going to play the same, we’re going to do things the same, and there's nothing you can do to stop us from doing this.

"Next year, the Marathon will be bigger and better, and you’re not going to stop us, and I thought, of all the messages, the police commissioner said that and I think that’s a fact."

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