Glen Davis and Doc Rivers haven't always gotten along handsomely. The two have been up and down like trampolinists, and have butted heads like a pair of Zinedine Zidane's.
But judging by the way they now speak, there has been a breakthrough in their relationship. Rivers still chides Davis whenever he makes mistakes, yet Davis has begun to accept criticism in the constructive way it's intended.
WEEI: How tough do you have to be on Big Baby? How does he resist your coaching?
RIvers: I don’t know that tough’s the word. You should have used demanding. Baby, to me, can improve. You just don’t want him to settle. You look at him, and he has that in him, and I tell him that all the time, ‘I’m never going to allow you settle.’ I’m just not, you have so much to give to the game and to our team, and there’s no reason for you not to be better than what you are today, or tomorrow. So, I’m never going to treat you the way you are today, I’m going to treat you the way you should be some day. He receives that very well.
Davis, the day before Doc's interview, said some comments that could have been portrayed as his normal disgruntled ramblings. First, he said his relationship with Rivers was like a father-son relationship... except Davis considered himself a step-son. Next, he said he wished Rivers would quiet down sometimes. (CSNNE)
"He’s worked with me, giving me opportunities to show what I’ve got within the team," he said. "But he’s still hard on me. He’s still hard. It’s like a love-hate - it’s like you love it but you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, pipe it down sometimes!’"
Some reporters merely quoted Davis, without noting his tone. But Jessica Camerato described that Davis was smiling or laughing the whole time he discussed his relationship with Rivers. He's become used to Rivers' constantly demanding attitude, and can now joke about the criticism that once bothered him so fiercely.
Which reminds me:
I had a professor in college who I absolutely hated. Actually, I wouldn't say that. I really liked him as a person. Whenever I saw this professor outside the classroom, we would chat for quite some time. A rare professor who loved hoops, he appreciated my love for the game. We would talk about Gilbert Arenas, his favorite player, and -- this was before the gun incident -- I tried to remind my professor that "Hibachi" had never won anything, nor had he ever come close, nor did he possess a game that was very conducive to winning. My professor and I chatted all the time, and, though I didn't share his fascination with Agent Zero, we became friends. As a person, I liked him -- any teacher who includes a "Hoop Dreams" viewing in an American Studies class works for me.
But as a teacher? Man, he ticked me off. No matter what I did, it wasn't good enough. I can remember writing what I thought was a masterpiece. We needed to describe a building, and its sense of history. I chose Cameron Indoor Stadium, and I wrote what I thought was a Shakespearian effort. We received our grades the following week, and my excitement bubbled -- I was about to receive an 'A.'
Umm, or not. My professor gave me a 'B-' instead, perplexing me in the process. Even my dad had liked my work, and he's the biggest stickler the English language has ever seen. Yet my paper came back with a red "B-" in the upper right-hand corner, and a whole bunch of notes about elements I needed to improve. More research on Coach K's relationship to the building, my professor wrote. But I spent two full pages describing that! Use the verb "to be," or any form of it, as rarely as possible, he continued. But everyone uses that verb! EVERYONE!
I spent the rest of the semester stewing. A 'B-'? Who does this professor think he is? And I thought he was a good guy! What a joke. Maybe I should have just agreed that Gilbert Arenas IS (Yes, the verb "to be"!) a fantastic basketball player.
Though I didn't realize it at the time, I needed my professor's advice far more than I needed an 'A'. This professor, even though I briefly hated him for his low-ball grades, brought out my best. I was Glen Davis, and he was Doc Rivers.
I never once received an 'A' in this professor's classes. Not once. But his teachings helped shape the writer I became (granted, a writer who still needs a lot of work). He helped me become more thorough in my examination, and helped expand my writing skills exponentially. Why would I write "I should have just agreed that Gilbert Arenas is a fantastic basketball player" when I could have written "I should have agreed that Gilbert Arenas could score with the explosiveness of a ballistic missile, and that one day his exploits would surely lead his team past its Kryptonite, Lebron James"? The first sentence reeks of a lack of creativity; the second portrays the same opinion, yet captivates the reader's imagination. Before my demanding professor, I never understood the difference. Now, I do.
Good teachers don't offer criticism just because they want to make your life miserable. They aren't harsh because they enjoy tearing you apart. They just want to help. They just want to see you reach your full potential, to see you blossom from an unborn seed into a beautiful Rhododendron.
It looks like Glen Davis has finally realized that. And thus, in the fourth year of his career, Davis continues a maturation process that leaves him on the cusp of great things.