NBA

All Too Familiar With Racism, Doc Rivers Delivers Emotional Message After Jacob Blake Shooting

Like most people, Doc Rivers has had enough with racism. Rivers, the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, has had a front-row seat to racism throughout his life. Rivers delivered an emotional message regarding the shooting of Jacob Blake after the Clippers soundly defeated the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. He has seen it all from coaching under Donald Sterling to having his house burned down in an attack that was apparently racially motivated.

Doc Rivers felt the racism heat up when he was in college

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Doc Rivers met his wife, Kris, while playing college basketball at Marquette. Doc is Black and Kris is white, and while the two didn’t see any problem with their relationship, others did. According to a 2014 Orlando Sentinel story, Kris had her tires slashed and had racial slurs scrawled on the sidewalk in front of her parents’ house. “It was a long time ago, and interracial dating was not all that acceptable. It was the hot talk on campus,” Rivers said then.

Rivers left school after his junior year and entered the NBA. He didn’t have a great junior year but needed to leave. “The whole thing with me and Kris affected my play,” Rivers said. “I had a terrible year. I wasn’t focused on the games. It was why I left. No one single event in my life taught me more about life and people — judging people and how they judge you — than my years at Marquette.”

Kris and Doc got married in 1986. Rivers went on to have a 13-year NBA career. After his playing days were over, Rivers became a successful head coach. Rivers found himself in the thick of racism as a coach for the Clippers when then-owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape asking his girlfriend not to bring Black people to games. Sterling was eventually forced out as owner.

Rivers’ house burned down in apparent racial attack

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 25: Head coach Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers talks with guard Lou Williams #23 in the first half against the Dallas Mavericks in game five of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 25, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)

After Doc Rivers’ playing days were over and before he became the head coach of the Orlando Magic, Doc, Kris, and their four children were living in San Antonio when a suspicious fire, many believed fueled by racial hatred, destroyed the family’s home. The home was burned to the ground, destroying the family’s keepsakes and killing the dog Kris had given Doc as a gift.

The fire happened when Doc was away at a golf tournament and Kris and the kids were visiting family in Wisconsin. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the incident later prompted Doc’s son, Jeremiah, to tweet, “My house has been burned to the ground, animals tortured and burned as well. Along with anything we ever loved, and held treasured, because of the color of my dad’s skin. We lost everything and had to start over.”

After the Sterling incident years later, Jeremiah Rivers again took to Twitter. Jeremiah said racism is taught and it will take a lot more than Sterling to make Jeremiah hate others. “One man cannot have the power to make me feel hate towards a group, race, or another person’s skin color,” he said. “…Racism isn’t born, it’s taught. It is the refuge of ignorance and seeks to divide and destroy.”

Rivers issues emotional message after Jacob Blake shooting

Following his team’s 154-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers got emotional and heated when discussing the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear,” Rivers said, according to ESPN. “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot, and we’re the ones that are denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear.

“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back,” Rivers said. “It’s really so sad. Like, I should just be a coach. I’m so often reminded of my color. It’s just really sad. We got to do better. But we got to demand better.

“The training has to change in the police force,” Rivers said. “The unions have to be taken down in the police force. My dad was a cop. I believe in good cops. We’re not trying to defund the police and take all their money away. We’re trying to get them to protect us, just like they protect everybody else.”