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One of the top coaches in the NBA over the past two decades has been Doc Rivers. From the Boston Celtics in the 2000s to this year’s the Los Angeles Clippers squad, Rivers’ teams have always seemed to be contenders. However, believe it or not, Doc is not actually his real name. So, how did Rivers end up getting the name he is known for, Doc?

Doc Rivers has had a lot of success as an NBA head coach

Rivers’ first head coaching job in the NBA was with the Orlando Magic as he coached there from 1999-2000 to 2003-04. In his second season, Rivers led the Magic to the playoffs, and they then went to the playoffs in three straight seasons from 2000-01 through 2002-03. However, Rivers only coached in 11 games with the Magic in 2003-04, and then began coaching the Boston Celtics in 2004-05. 

The Celtics only went to the playoff once in Rivers’ first three seasons with the team. They also only went 24-58 in 2006-07. However, in 2007-08, led by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, the Celtics won the NBA Finals. Rivers then coached the Celtics through the 2012-13 season, and they went to the playoffs in each of those seasons. The Celtics reached the NBA Finals again in 2009-10, and the Eastern Conference Finals another time in 2011-12.

The 2013-14 season was Rivers’ first with the Los Angeles Clippers. The team has gotten to the playoffs in every season under Rivers but for one in 2017-18. However, they have not made it past the Western Conference Semifinals.

Prior to the NBA suspending its season this year, though, the Clippers were one of the best teams in the NBA. They had the second-best record in the Western Conference at 44-20. 

How did Rivers get his name?

Doc Rivers is one of the greatest coaches in the NBA today and the Clippers are one of the best teams. However, why is he called "Doc"?
Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, addresses the media during Media Day in 2019. | Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Doc is not actually Rivers’ first name. His first name is Glenn. 

Rivers got the name “Doc” from the legendary college coach Rick Majerus. Rivers reportedly showed up to a summer camp at Marquette wearing a Dr. J (Julius Erving) t-shirt. Majerus then gave him the nickname “Doc,” and it has stuck with him ever since, according to ESPN

Majerus was an assistant while Rivers played at Marquette, also according to ESPN. He later led Utah to the national championship in 1998. Majerus, however, died in 2012 at 64 years old.

“That’s a tough one for me,” Rivers said after a Celtics’ game in 2012, according to ESPN. “He’s the one that gave me my nickname. I knew before (the game) that he wasn’t going to make it through the night. I don’t want to talk much about it.”

Majerus was a coaching legend. His decision to call Rivers “Doc,” though, ended up having a massive impact on the history of the NBA. 

Can the Clippers win a championship this season?


Battle of Los Angeles: Lakers vs. Clippers Headline Return of NBA Season

The NBA season, which has been suspended since March due to COVID-19, is scheduled to finally resume play on July 30. 

As mentioned above, Rivers’ Clippers team has the second-best record in the Western Conference heading into the restart and have as good a chance as any to win the championship this season. 

The Clippers are led by reigning NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard — who is averaging 26.9 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, and five assists this season — along with Paul George, who is averaging 21 points per game and 5.7 rebounds. LA also has two guys who average 18 points per game or more in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.

However, the teams who will be standing in their way are the Los Angeles Lakers — who are led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis — and the Milwaukee Bucks, who are led by reigning league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It will not be an easy road for the Clippers if they want to win it all. However, if Leonard and George are at the top of their games, they will certainly be tough to beat.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference