Doc Rivers has a busy work schedule this weekend, coaching the Celtics first against the 76ers in Philadelphia last night before returning home to Boston to face the Sixers again tonight. But he felt obligated to take a detour in his travels this morning, visiting Milwaukee to say goodbye to his late college coach, Rick Majerus.
Majerus, who coached Rivers throughout his three seasons at Marquette between 1980 and '83, died on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles. At the age of 64, he finally succumbed to the heart troubles he'd been battling for over two decades.
A funeral mass for Majerus, who coached for 15 years at Marquette and another 15 at the University of Utah, among others, was held at Marquette today. Rivers felt a profound need to make the trip out to Wisconsin.
"Rick had a lot to do with why I'm here today," the Celtics' coach said. "I've been with Rick since fifth grade, for the most part. I felt like I had to be there. It was important to me."
It was a tight schedule for Rivers, whose Celtics left Philly late last night, to make it to both the funeral and tonight's game. But the coach said he never considered skipping either one.
"If I really want to piss Rick off, I don't coach the game," Rivers said. "But I didn't give that much thought. Life is involved in what we do every day. You deal with life, then you deal with your job. I always try to separate the two when I can."
Rivers said he just landed back in Boston about two hours before game time. Now, it's time to focus on the Sixers again.
"It was just a long day," he said. "A tough day. Now we have a game."