Doc Rivers met with the media at long last today. After a press conference in Los Angeles, Rivers held court with the Boston media on a conference call. We’ll have those full remarks later this evening, but for now, with some help from our friend Jovan Buha from ClipperBlog.com, here’s a number of candid comments from Rivers on his first day as a member of the Clippers coaching and management staff.
First of all, I hope this is the last time that I’m the center of attention here and I say that honestly. It will be about the players.
This was a strange ordeal over the last couple of weeks to the point, as you can see my attire, I don’t have any suits because they’re all in Boston right now. I flew in from Orlando. That’s where I stay in the offseason and I basically wear shorts and a T-shirt for the whole summer.
Opening Statement: It’s really good to be here. This is a new challenge for me. I had nine absolutely amazing years in Boston. So, before I do anything, I have to thank Danny (Ainge) and Wyc (Grousbeck) and the ownership group there, the fans there, because it was an amazing ride. When I look back upon that and look where I’m sitting now, that’s where we want to go. We want to get to that level of winning. When Andy and Gary and I were talking, and I said it over and over again in Boston: It’s nice to do a lot of winning, it’s nicer to be the winner and that’s why I’m here. That’s what I want to do. Quite honestly, at this point of my life, that’s the only reason I’m coaching is to try to win titles. And, for us, we have to prove that we can win a series first and then build from there.
Q: What were the overriding factors that made you want to come here to the Clippers to coach this team?
Out of the year, I didn’t even have any factors. I had no plans of leaving. Didn’t give it a lot of thought, honestly. My thoughts were at the time – every year, Danny (Ainge) knows me as well as anyone – I put everything I can into a season and then if you ask me a minute after the season, I’m not coming back. I’m going home. I’m just burned out and tired. This lasted a little longer. So when Danny and I talked and I told him I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, we just basically sat around as a team and said, ‘What’s the best way, at that time, to improve the Celtics?’ And we went in to talking about different scenarios and a couple other teams came up and Danny talked about assets — me and Kevin (Garnett) at the time – and then the Clippers came up and both of us, I told him, ‘Boy, that’s interesting.’ And you’d be amazed how from that point on, I really kind of stepped back and Danny kind of did the talking and would report back to me. I couldn’t talk to (the media) or anybody, so I was kind of left out. I thought it was really interesting. One thing I would like to make clear, I want to stay on the Clippers in this (press conference) more, there was never any threats, ‘If you don’t get me here, I’m not doing this … I’m not coming back.’ It was never any of that. It was just kind of a negotiation with Danny and Andy and if it all worked out, then I would consider it and that’s basically where it went to. And the closer we got to this thing that it could actually happen was the more I got interested in it. And that’s basically where it went.
Q: Do you think this team is ready to compete for a championship or do you think there’s still work that needs to be done?
Well, we didn’t win it last year, so there’s clearly work to do. Whether that (will) be with what we have … The reason that I wanted this when it was made available because of what they have and not what they don’t have. So, I clearly think this is an extremely talented basketball team. There were times last year when they were the best team (in the league). But what we have to figure out is with the group we have, can we now do that in the postseason as opposed to just the regular season. So, I like the talent we have here and obviously we’re going to keep looking to improve.
Q: Considering the complexity of this negotiation, how surprised are you that is has been completed? Because it has been described as one of the most complex negotiations in the history of the NBA.
I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I was surprised or not. On Sunday, Danny and I were talking about our roster (for the Celtics) and then on Sunday night, this deal was agreed upon so that’s how volatile this whole thing was and had been. I always think things finally happen and I thought that this just took a long, winding path but it found its way and so I’m happy.
Q: You guys in Boston patented an innovative defense with strong side pressure and the league has essentially copied it. Can you implement that here with the personnel?
On Pulling out of the deal over the weekend: “Yeah, if you want me to answer it quick. I did. I kind of pulled out of it myself, not from being mad or anything, I just had enough of it. It’s not like I was leaving somewhere. I enjoyed where I was at. I just looked at this like another great challenge and if I could get it, it would be interesting to have that opportunity. But after a while, I called Danny and said ‘Listen, I’m staying. I’m coming back. I’m coaching. That’s what I am. Let’s move forward.’ Two hours later, he told me, ‘No, you’re not staying. You’re going.’
“I said I don’t want to take part in the negotiations anymore. And I really hadn’t, I just thought it was over. So it was easy for me to just tell Danny, ‘Let’s just start with the rebuild.’ I conveyed that to Danny. I couldn’t talk to the Clippers.
Rivers on his new position: “I don’t know what power is, to be honest. Doing more than just coaching isn’t really helping build the team. Danny and I did, but it was Danny. Danny did so much of the work. They are two (Roesner and Sacks). They’re the same stuff. But it’s nice having more input. That’s something every coach wants. I’ve been afforded the trust and the opportunity to do that. But this is going to be a team. We’re going to work together. We’re going to try to build the best team possible. I don’t like being called, ‘Coach’, let alone whatever else I am. I like being called, ‘Doc.’ So as far as I’m concerned, that’s who I am. We’re just going to work together. That’s the whole key in this. We have to be the best team up there so we can be a better team down here. If we don’t accomplish that up there, then we cannot be down there. It’s not going to work.”
Rivers on talking to his ex-players: “Yes. They all went great. I haven’t talked to all the players, obviously. This has happened pretty quickly, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to all of them. I’ve texted some and gotten responses back. I’ve also talked to all my ex-players, or a lot of them as well. I’ve been doing a lot of phone calls of late, which is good. It’s going to be needed. We have the draft tomorrow, which is the amazing thing if you think about. I’ve been here 12 hours and we’re already talking about drafting players. So there’s a lot of work to be done. Free agency comes up after that, so we’re behind the eight ball.