Doc Rivers’ passion for coaching

Doc Rivers

The subject of Doc Rivers taking a year off from coaching after he left the Boston Celtics in 2013 appeared in an article this weekend.

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe presented the topic in his latest Sunday Basketball Notes article.

The timing of the subject coincided with the Los Angeles Clippers coach’s upcoming visit to Boston for the ABCD Hoop Dreams, an annual charity event. The Globe writer noted that upon Doc’s departure from Boston there was the belief that he would work as a broadcaster or follow the path of many of his coaching peers and take a sabbatical (aka a year off) between gigs. Instead, he is entering his 21st consecutive season as an NBA bench boss.

Rivers, who began his head coaching career with the Orlando Magic in 1999, addressed the issue in Washburn’s story.

“Honestly, you don’t get do-overs and my last year in Boston, when I was thinking about taking a break, I still don’t know if I should have or not but I probably should have when you think back,” Rivers was quoted as saying. “But that first year with the Clippers was phenomenal. But as that went on and it didn’t work as winning a title, you could make a case that it wouldn’t have been a bad time to take a year (off). Then we get these teams the last two years and it rejuvenated me. So I am as keen on my job as I may have ever been.

“Those guys gave me life again. They gave me enjoyment. I don’t know what it was I didn’t have. We all go through this. But it’s the guys that give you that energy. What I learned is don’t let anyone take away something you love and the joy you get from that.”

On Kawhi’s role

Rivers also addressed the issue of newcomer Kawhi Leonard’s expected role with the Clippers, a season after the 2018-19 NBA champion Toronto Raptors employed a “load management” schedule for the star forward. This kept him out of 22 regular-season games.

In Rivers’ opinion, resting players is important, but doesn’t take away his team’s ever-present focus on being competitive.

“We’re going to sacrifice minutes, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to expect to lose,” Rivers said, according to The Boston Globe.

“You remember in Boston we went on a whole three-game (trip) and I actually left Paul (Pierce) and Ray (Allen) and Kevin (Garnett) home. And we still won. You can sit players — Toronto was a great example, they sat Kawhi, but they still won games. You can never give away games, but you can absolutely sacrifice minutes played, for sure.

“It’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in involved in one conference where there are literally six teams that could win the title. I know we want to win as many games as possible, that’s No. 1, and get the best seeding as possible, that’s No. 2. But we have to be as healthy as possible, that’s No. 3, and it’s not in that order. Because one thing that I think every coach knows, it doesn’t matter what your seeding is if you’re not healthy. You’re not winning.”