BOSTON (CBS) – Former Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers was introduced by his new team on Wednesday, taking over as head coach and VP of Basketball Operations of the Los Angeles Clippers.
But first, he made sure to reflect on his nine-year run with the Celtics.
“I had nine absolutely amazing years in Boston,” he said before thanking Boston’s ownership and fans. “When I look back upon that and where I’m sitting now, that’s where we want to go. We want to get to that level of winning.”
“I said this over and over in Boston, it’s nice to do a lot of winning, it’s nicer to be the winner,” said Rivers. “That’s why I’m here, that’s what I want to do. And quite honestly, at this point in my life, that’s the only reason I’m coaching — to win titles.”
Rivers said it was never his intention to leave Boston, but when the Clippers came up in conversations with him and Danny Ainge the head coach became intrigued at a potential change — and new challenge.
“As early as Sunday, Danny and I were talking about our roster,” said Rivers. “Then, on Sunday night, this deal was agreed upon. That’s how volatile this thing was and has been.”
“After the year, I didn’t even have many factors, had no plans of leaving. I didn’t give it a lot of thought, honestly,” he said. “After every year — and Danny knows me as well as anyone — I put everything I can into a season, and then if you ask me a minute after the season, I’m not coming back; I’m going home. I’m just burnt out. I’m tired.”
“This lasted a little longer, and so when Danny and I talked, I told him I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and we just basically sat around as a team and talked about what’s the best way, at that time, to improve the Celtics. We went into talking about different scenarios. A couple other teams came up, and Danny talked about assets — me and Kevin Garnett at the time — and then the name Clippers came up, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s interesting.’ You’d be amazed how, from that point on, I really kind of stepped back. Danny kind of did the talking and would report back to me. I couldn’t talk to (Clipper president Andy Roeser) or anybody, so I was kind of left out. It was really interesting.”
Rivers made it clear that if talks with the Clippers did not end in a deal, which looked like a possibility numerous times during the negotiations, he would return to Boston.
“One thing I would like to make clear: There were never any threats. ‘If you don’t get me here, I’m not doing this.’ ‘I’m not coming back.’ There was never any of that,” said Rivers. “It was just kind of a negotiation with Danny and Andy, and if it all worked out, then I would consider it. That’s basically where it went to, and the closer we got to this thing actually happening is the more I got interested in it.”
Rivers compiling a 416-305 record while with the Celtics, winning the 2007-08 NBA Championship after Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined forces with Paul Pierce.
Now, the Celtics find themselves looking for a new head coach, and Rivers finds himself with extra responsibilities in L.A..
“We didn’t win it last year, so there is clearly work to do,” he said. “The reason I wanted this when it was made available is what they have, not what they don’t have. This is an extremely talented basketball team — at times last season one of the best. We have to figure out, with the group we have, can we now do that in the postseason, as opposed to just the regular season.”
When asked which members of his Celtics staff he would bring out West, Rivers said most of them, but it was still a work in progress.