The New York Times has a nice article on Doc Rivers and the fresh start that he's getting in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Most of Doc's attention appears to be on the task at hand and the future, but he can't seem to fully leave the past behind. Or rather, he can't stop answering questions about the past.
You see, Doc is going to be asked by every new reporter he sees about the Boston Celtics. It is part of their job. Doc is a media friendly, affable guy, so he's going to answer the best he can for them. But at some point it would really be best to just stop talking about the Celtics.
Doc seems to be aware of some of the blowback from fans and is starting to sound a touch defensive about it.
"Listen, if you’re married and you get a divorce, even if both sides agree to it, people are going to have something to say about it," Rivers said. "I accepted that. From a Celtic standpoint, I got that. Anyone else, I could care less." For his own state of mind, Rivers had decided he did not have the patience to coach a rebuilding team for a fourth time, having done so twice in Orlando and once in Boston. For the sake of the Celtics, he advised Kevin Garnett to "do the right thing" and waive his no-trade clause for the trade to the Nets. Rivers offered numerous ego-soothing conversations to help Paul Pierce deal with the impending loss of his Celtics lifer status. "If that had been Paul who decided he wanted to leave because they were rebuilding, then Paul would have been cast as what — disloyal, ungrateful, spoiled?" Rivers said. "But the team did it to Paul, and everything’s good. That’s the business."
It isn't a coincidence that both Doc and LeBron brought up Pierce and Garnett. They have come out of all of this about as unscathed as you can be. In fact, if I had to rank the fan loyalty/appreciation, it would go Pierce, Garnett, Doc, and then Ray Allen at rock bottom.
I guess it boils down to intent, but I guess it does get muddy when you think about it. Doc left in part because he didn't want to go through rebuilding. He said he was perfectly willing to stay in Boston but in the end he got "traded." Now Pierce said he wanted to stay in Boston, but he also said he didn't want to go through rebuilding and in the end he got traded. So why is Pierce the victim while Doc is painted by some as a villain?
Perhaps it dates back to a couple years ago when Doc signed a 5 year contract that (presumably) would have set him up for being part of the rebuilding process. Somewhere along the way he changed his mind about that (if it was ever his intent). That's his right, but somehow it doesn't play as well with everyone.
Still, this is all just different shades of perception. None of us were there in the room(s) when this stuff went down. None of us knows the whole story or all the conflicting emotions involved. These were professionals making career decisions that just so happened to impact a team that we fans feel very passionately about. It makes for a very odd dynamic.
Regardless, I've already spent more time thinking and writing about this than I cared to. This will probably be my last Doc article until right around the time we play the Clippers. At some point you just have to move on.
Personally I'm not mad at Doc and I'll give him my own little standing ovation from my living room. I wish him all the best of luck in Los Angeles.