Recently, NBA player Glen Davis, formerly of the Magic, Celtics, and Clippers, made comments about his former coach Doc Rivers and how he was ‘lucky to have won a championship’. He’s absolutely right.
Doc Rivers used to coach the Orlando Magic from 1999-2003, fired in 2003 after starting the season 1-10. In 2004, he accepted the head coaching position for the Boston Celtics, where he proceeded to do nothing impressive until 2008. Local reporter Bill Simmons was calling for Doc Rivers to be fired for a long time before 2008, but this reporter is well known for being a hypocrite, so it’s understandable to not take Bill Simmons that seriously. Doc failed to make anything happen in Boston, not improving the teams record or succeeding with any development of the teams younger players. Then in the summer of 2007, Danny Ainge traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, and indirectly saved Doc Rivers’ career. The Boston “Big 3” of Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce was one of the first super teams of the modern day NBA. They were a hard-nosed defensive team, led by then assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who rightfully gets most of the coaching credit for this Celtic team that ultimately beat the Lakers in the Finals, becoming the 2008 NBA Champions (and back to Bill Simmons, while he was asking for Doc to be fired for 4 years, once the Celtics won the 2008 championship, Simmons himself made the mistake of calling Doc one of the greatest coaches ever). At first glance, Doc Rivers looked like a genius, but then Thibodeau left to coach the Chicago Bulls. Doc’s weaknesses in coaching were exposed, and although the Celtics made the Finals again in 2010, they lost to the Lakers this time around, and people do think the lack of Thibodeau being on the staff is one of the reasons why. In my opinion, Doc Rivers is a glorified Mark Jackson, meaning he’s a nice motivational speaker and that’s about it. Doc Rivers cannot hold a candle to any of the great coaches in the game, and I believe there are at least 25 coaches in the league today that are much better than Doc Rivers was or ever will be.
In 2013, there were questions about Doc Rivers’ future in coaching, and if he wanted to coach a rebuilding roster in the Celtics, or proceed with retiring. The Clippers ended up trading a first round pick for him to coach the Clippers, and he is still there today. Doc has managerial control over the team as well, so he has made some of the decisions like signing Austin Rivers, who wouldn’t be in the NBA were it not for his last name. Again, because of Tom Thibodeau, Doc was given more respect than he deserved, and given managerial duties over the team, which was a big mistake on the Clippers’ part. Doc has had Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan since 2013 and has never passed the 2nd round. People talk about Doc Rivers and how he’s ‘one of the greatest coaches in history’ but how can one of the greatest coaches in history have the best PG in the game in Chris Paul and not be able to make anything happen? How can one of the best coaches in history be fired or on the brink of being fired at least 3 times in his coaching career before a lucky roster move changed one of his teams directions, and only for one year? Tom Thibodeau was the genius behind the Celtics 2008 championship, which is why the Bulls courted him to coach them. When you look at Doc’s past, it’s painfully obvious he belongs nowhere near an NBA sideline, but thanks to Tom Thibodeau, he will forever be given a pass for his many deficiencies as a coach, which far outweigh his strengths, of which there aren’t many.