NBA

Doc Rivers Faces the ‘Biggest Challenge of His Coaching Career’ According to Steve Kerr

Since trading in his NBA jersey for a clipboard, Doc Rivers has had a long, productive career. From his early days in Orlando to the current ones in Los Angeles, the coach has had his fair share of drama. However, as the NBA prepares to resume its season at Disney World, Rivers might face the biggest challenge of his career — at least according to Steve Kerr.

Doc Rivers’ NBA career

Doc Rivers got his start in the NBA with the Orlando Magic as Fansided details. Coming to the team around the same time that they acquired a young player named Tracy McGrady, Rivers was a bright young coaching star in the years following a successful basketball career. The Magic were expected to make waves with McGrady and an injured Grant Hill, but that never came to be.

After four-straight years of 41-to-44 wins, Rivers was let go by the team 11 games into his fifth season. Rivers tried some TV work before returning to the sideline the following year as the coach of the Boston Celtics. There, Rivers took a team that hadn’t won a championship since the 1980s and built a contender.

The team’s star, Paul Pierce, was joined by Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and the best stretch of Rivers’ career ensued. The team won the 2008 NBA Champion and contended for several years after. In 2013, however, Rivers requested another move. However, when the Celtics hit rebuild. They traded him to the Clippers in 2014.

A new view

Before the 2013-14 season, the Clippers were a young up-and-coming team with a superstar point guard in Chris Paul. When Rivers came, many believed that he could guide Paul, Blake Griffin, and the rest of the team to championship glory.

At the end of his first year there, however, the Clippers made headlines off the court after owner Donald Sterling made racist comments that eventually ended his tenure as owner, as the SF Chronicle reports. Rivers recovered.

While that original core has since gone on to other things, he remains in Los Angeles with a new title-contender led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. However, with so much uncertainty and a three-month hiatus leading into the July return of basketball, Rivers might have to take everything he’s learned and perform a miracle. 

Doc Rivers’ biggest challenge yet

Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers and Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors shake hands
Doc Rivers and Steve Kerr shake hands | Harry Howe/Getty Images

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has known Rivers as a player and a coach for decades. During quarantine, Kerr has taken to podcasting and interviewing other coaches to pass the time. His Warriors will not make the trip to Orlando after scoring a league-worst record. But he spoke with Rivers about the challenges ahead.

“This has gotta be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenge of your coaching career,” he told Rivers. “I would think, I mean, you have a championship-caliber team. You have these crazy circumstances. And yet, if you win a championship this year, it is legit and deserved. I don’t care what anybody says, you know, the whole asterisk thing, screw that… This is gonna be tough, but what have you been doing to prepare your guys for that?”

Rivers pondered everything Kerr said and talked about why this current stretch is unprecedented. With much of the quarantine requiring players to stay away from each other, the staff had to work remotely as they prepare for Orlando. Rivers laid this out to Kerr. 

“We talk a lot. It’s amazing the conversations we’re having because they have legitimate questions, you know? And the fact that I don’t have the answers, Steve, is unsettling, it’s different for us… I’ve done more team-building on Zoom and on individual calls than I’ve ever done in my life. Because usually, you do it in-person and from weight to conditioning to this whole thing about you’re responsible for everybody else on your team.”

When the NBA restarts in July, its primary goal, outside of basketball, will be making it to October. Lots of uncertainty remains, but with Rivers at the helm, the Clippers will likely be prepared for whatever comes their way if the league does finish as it plans to.