Williams would never do such a thing, of course, but he would not have to make a threat or literally pick up the phone to get such a message across. The New Orleans Hornets' third-year coach is a close friend of Austin's parents, Doc and Kristen, going back to Doc and Williams' days as teammates. It could be awkward if Rivers, who has been saddled with the reputation of having a toxic attitude, got out of line with his old man's buddy.
"I couldn't have picked a better guy for me and for Austin," said Doc, the head coach of the Celtics.
Williams and Doc played a partial season together with the Knicks in 1994-95 and with the Spurs in 1995-96. Doc then coached Williams for two seasons with the Magic from 1999-2001. They and their families have spent time together at numerous family gatherings, and Doc counts Williams as one of his closest friends in the NBA.
During a predraft workout, Rivers was quoted as saying that playing for Williams sound like "fun." Rivers is bound to have fun — he is 19 years old, about to get paid millions of dollars to play basketball and gets to hang out in New Orleans on non-game nights — but he had better not expect Hornets practices to be like those leisurely get-togethers with the Williams family.
"Monty's going to coach him, and Austin's going to have to get used to that, and that's good," Doc said. "He had [Mike Krzyzewski], so it's going to be about the same there."
This is not the first time Rivers will have a familiar person presiding over his career. Chris Collins, the assistant coach at Duke who recruited Rivers to play for the Blue Devils, is a son of Sixers coach Doug Collins. The Rivers and Collins families also became close during the recruiting process, and Doc and Doug have spoken highly of each other.
Opinions are mixed as to whether Rivers' confident air is healthy self-belief or unhealthy arrogance, but the Hornets should not have to worry either way. If anybody knows how to appeal to the rookie guard's better nature, it is a friend who has sat across the dinner table from him many times.