Doc Rivers has never been shy in sharing his thoughts on the various social injustice issues plaguing the nation. The new Philadelphia 76ers head coach has been publicly critical of a U.S. Senator and President Donald Trump. Conversely, former President Barack Obama has praised Rivers for his thoughtful commentary on the tough issues.
In a speech appropriately enough in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Obama’s vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden recognized Rivers and marveled at his strength and that of the Black community to love a country that has mistreated them for so many years.
Doc Rivers calls out America’s original sin
In recent months, with civil unrest and protests and demonstrations erupting in cities across the nation, newly hired Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers has been one of the most outspoken voices in sports. While Rivers has called out U.S. Senator Josh Hawley and President Donald Trump for their various positions, he’s also identified how the education system and racism was built into the system from the very beginning.
The 58-year-old Rivers, who grew up in Illinois, spoke from his own childhood experiences.
“We sang Dixie songs in high school, in grade school, and we almost celebrated slavery, like it was a cool thing. Think about it. Black kids singing songs about picking cotton, how absurd that is when you think about it? Now, as a kid I never thought anything of it. Thought it was a cool song. And when you grow up, you’re like, ‘What the hell was that?’
“I keep saying it, (this country) has not come to grips with the original sin of slavery and the impact of slavery. If you look at our country, and you just did it in 275-year increments, well, if you take the first 175 years, 150 years of that was slavery. The next 50 or 60 years was Jim Crow, segregation, hanging, lynching. If you give anybody a 200-year head start economically, educationally, you’re going to be in a deficit, and we have not come to grips with the impact of that.”
Doc Rivers gets emotional addressing Jacob Blake shooting
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In late August, just days after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, Doc Rivers addressed yet another police shooting following his team’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA playoffs.
“All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear. 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 to me why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad,” Rivers said, getting choked up. “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.”
Joe Biden awed by Rivers and Black community
In late August, after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted a playoff game, former President Barack Obama praised the team for its decision and also lauded Doc Rivers for setting an example for others. During a speech on national unity in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden referenced Rivers’ remarks on the Blake shooting.
“Doc Rivers, the basketball coach, choking back tears when he said, ‘We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’ve been hung. It’s amazing how we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.’
“I think about that. I think about what it takes for a Black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that has for far too long never been recognized.”
Doc Rivers’ legacy will undoubtedly be highlighted by his successful career in the NBA as a player and coach, including an NBA title back in 2008 coaching the Celtics. But he will also be remembered for his outspoken voice and how he so eloquently shared the pain that he and the Black community have endured for years, and how, despite all of it, still remain hopeful for a better tomorrow.