New Celtic Michael Finley has always looked up to Doc Rivers. No, not since Rivers became an NBA coach in 1999. Not since his rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks in 1983. Not even since his freshman year at Marquette in 1980.
Nope. According to the Boston Herald, Finley has idolized Rivers ever since watching his new coach play at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., in the late ’70s.
"My sister was a cheerleader and he was the star basketball player at the high school," Finley told the Herald. "I used to sit under the basket and watch him play. That’s how far the relationship goes back. He’s always been a mentor for me of how to be a professional and how to be a man."
For Rivers, the relationship actually goes back even further.
"I remember literally the day he was born," Rivers told the paper. "I really do. Sandra [Finley’s sister] was a captain of our cheerleading team for three years and she had to babysit him all the time. I remember everything about him. I’ve watched him in grade school, high school and college at Wisconsin. I’ve known Michael his whole life."
He has continued to follow Finley, who also starred at Proviso East, throughout the former Spur’s NBA career and could not be happier that the Celtics signed Finley after he was cut by San Antonio last week.
"One of the things that I've always admired from afar is how he has carried himself," Rivers said. "He was a fantastic student at Proviso East and in college, and he has carried himself in a great way in the NBA. Every coach that coached him, loves him, loves his character. Everyone says how good he is in the locker room. When you can add that, you go ahead and grab it."
Finley, 37, is just as ecstatic about the chance to finally play for his idol.
"I've watched his career as a basketball player and as a coach," Finley said. "It's definitely an honor for me to play for him."