BOSTON (CBS) – Former Boston Celtics head coach and current Los Angeles Clippers head coach and VP of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz on Friday, talking about his departure from Boston and new opportunity with the Clippers.
Some Celtics fans feel jilted by Rivers, since he had three-years remaining on his contract with Boston. Bill Simmons said he felt Rivers quit on the Celtics during Thursday night’s NBA Draft coverage. Rivers said there is nothing he can do about fans that feel that way, but he did not quit on the team.
“There’s nothing I can do about that. If you feel like Bill without knowing all the info, that’s not my job. I gave the Boston Celtics nine years of my life and everything I could give them. I have a lot of Boston Celtics fans who still love me, and I’m sure there’s a group that don’t because I left, but I’m not in the business to convincing people why.”
“I think you saw why yesterday with the draft; people don’t completely understand what was going on. I had the opportunity because of what was going on,” Rivers said of Boston’s rebuilding. “The bottom line was the Celtics wanted draft picks and they wanted to drop contracts – I was one of those contracts. If I wanted to come back, they would have been willing to take me back. But at the same time, I feel they wanted to get out of it and it was a great win for me as well.”
“We worked on this together, there was never any arguing, never any threatening. Danny was terrific, and I think Danny did terrific last night,” he said of the Celtics’ trade with the Nets that sends Pierce and Garnett for a bundle of players and draft picks.
“I know it’s hard for people to believe, but Danny and I were great through this whole thing,” said Doc. “Danny knew what he had to do, he really did. He knew it would be difficult, he knew he would need my help in it, and it worked out. I’m the one that took the hit; I can tell you internally I’ve been thanked that I’d been willing to do that.”
“In return for me, I got to coach a team that has a chance. We have a lot of work here, but for me, it was a win-win,” said Rivers the Clippers. “It’s not how I thought I would end my run in Boston, but if you were in this position or anyone else, you’d have to look at it. That’s what I did.”
Rivers said he didn’t ask to be let out of his contract, and reports that he did are “erroneous and careless.” He also said he would have returned had the Clippers trade fallen through, even if Garnett and Pierce weren’t going to be around.
“I told Danny I was going to come back if the Clipper deal didn’t get done. That was the bottom line. But Garnett and Paul probably weren’t going to be here. They were going to get moved whether I came back or not,” he said.
Rivers said Rajon Rondo had nothing to do with his departure, and the Celtics could build around the talented point guard – as long as he’s healthy and willing to take the next step.
“I think the first thing you have to find out about is his health. If Rondo is healthy and can play to the level he can play, the answer is absolutely yes,” said Rivers. “He wants to make others better with the pass, and that’s attractive to other free agents. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
When asked what his favorite memory during his nine years in Boston was, Rivers said it actually during a lopsided blowout loss in the playoffs, when the Celtics faithful stuck around and changed “Let’s Go Celtics” to inspire their team.
“I had a great run for nine years and it was amazing. This morning, I don’t know who asked me, what was my favorite memory in Boston, and I think you would assume it was 20008 when we won the title on our home court and the Gatorade bath. It was last year against Miami in Game 6. We were getting destroyed and LeBron was having the game of games. Most fans in most areas leave the arena. But what they did at the end of that game, for me, and I’m an emotional guy, that was amazing,” said Doc. “That’s one of my favorite sporting moments, with fans. I just thought our team just got the city and connected the way a lot of teams done. To me, that was the best moment.”