For the opening 10 seconds of his first postgame news conference back at Boston’s TD Garden, Doc Rivers sat in silence. His new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, had just defeated the Boston Celtics, 96-88. However, as Rivers fought back tears when asked about his standing ovation from the Garden faithful, that result was the last thing on his mind.
Finally, he was able to compose himself and answer the question.
“It was just a really nice day.”
The joyous reunion felt between Rivers and the Celtics on Wednesday night seemed to be a long shot merely six months ago. Rivers left Boston on less-than-cordial terms, departing an aging roster that was on the verge of a rebuild for the greener pastures of a contender and a greater degree of front-office control in Los Angeles.
Boston received a 2015 first-round pick as compensation for allowing Rivers out of the remaining three years of his contract, but the ordeal took its toll on both sides.
Boston’s president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, placed Doc’s exit on his former head coach, declaring it was ultimately Rivers’ decision to leave. Doc disagreed with that version of events, stating publicly he felt Boston had been on board with the move. As both sides played the blame game for the majority of the summer, an awkward cloud hung over the entire situation.
Rivers changed his tune this week. In a refreshing change of pace, he finally took responsibility for his departure.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I decided to leave at some point. It should be all good. I had a good, wonderful time here. I have nothing but good things to say,” Rivers said before Wednesday’s game.
It took six months, but time and perspective allowed Rivers to say the words most Boston fans, and Ainge, wanted to hear. He owned up to leaving. And that acknowledgment did wonders for the healing process between Rivers and the Celtics’ fan base, as Boston’s former head coach was greeted with a tribute and standing ovation by the TD Garden crowd.
“[The ovation] didn’t surprise me because that’s just the way — you’ve got to live here to understand it — that’s just the way they are,” Rivers said. “It’s an amazing fan base. It really is. And I just want everything to go well for them.”
As both sides have moved on, it’s become clear that Rivers and the Celtics have both received what they wanted all along.
The following is an excerpt of a piece written for the Daily Dime today. You can check out the remainder of the piece BY CLICKING HERE