Doc Rivers might coach the Clippers, but he still keeps a close connection with Boston.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Rivers reflected on his time in the city, from coaching the Celtics for nine seasons to his charitable work with the Action for Boston Community Development program. He, along with Celtics coach Brad Stevens and longtime Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan, will host the annual ABCD Hoops Dreams event on September 3 at the Auerbach Center.
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“The work ABCD does really tugs at your heart,” Rivers said about the anti-poverty organization. “Even when I left Boston, I felt strongly this was something I needed to be a part of.”
Rivers had a successful coaching career with the Celtics, winning an NBA championship in 2008. In his opinion, that team would compete for another title in the NBA of 2020, even against his Paul George and Kawhi Leonard-led Clippers.
“I think so,” he said when asked if it was possible. “It’s because of the mental toughness of that group. That was a very skilled, very deep team, and the depth made them so special.
“When you think of the Celtics, you think of ‘The Big Three’ [Paul Pierce, Garnett, and Allen], but that doesn’t include [Rajon] Rondo or Perk [Kendrick Perkins], who were both phenomenal players, or Eddie House, Tony Allen, James Posey, PJ Brown, Big Baby [Glen Davis], and Leon Powe. That was a deep basketball team. Teams aren’t as deep now.”
He credits strong chemistry for creating championship teams, and thinks it should not be “taken for granted”. Members of the 2008 team still remain close friends, and Rivers praised Kevin Garnett for quarterbacking the group.
“[Garnett] is the greatest superstar team-builder that I’ve seen in the history of the game,” said Rivers. “He always considered the team before any action that he took on or off the floor, and for that to also be your superstar player is unusual. Kevin Garnett, like Tom Brady, is a culture-builder. When you have a guy like that, you’re going to win. Kevin is one of the greatest of all-time, but he’d be the last one to tell you.”
“He was in the right mental place to win in Boston, as were Paul and Ray. They’d already done so many other things in their careers, but the one thing that stood out was something they couldn’t buy, something they couldn’t do alone. In order to do this, they had to come together as a group. Kevin really understood that, and he was willing to sacrifice anything for that, including his numbers and his fame.”