BOSTON — While Pat Riley and Danny Ainge exchanged verbal blows through the media, Celtics coach Doc Rivers found himself uncomfortably in the middle of a war of words between his boss and the guy in charge of his top rival.
After Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, called LeBron James‘ complaints about rough play “embarrassing” on a radio interview this week and Riley, the Miami Heat president, dropped an expletive in response, Rivers was asked prior to his team’s game against the Hawks on Friday what he thought of the ongoing exchange.
“I think it’s funny,” Rivers said. “I think it’s very interesting. … I can relate. I think it’s cool. They should duke it out.”
Rivers, who had his own battles with Ainge in their playing days, tip-toed around the issue. He downplayed the impact Ainge and Riley’s back-and-forth would have on a possible playoff matchup between the Celtics and Heat, who have met up in the last three postseasons. Rivers said he does not foresee any carryover to the court.
“Not unless [Ainge and Riley are] playing,” Rivers said. “It’s just talk, both ways. I’ll let those two grown men handle their own grown men argument. I’m going to stay out of it, but on a side note it just gives me a smile. It’s interesting. It’s fun.”
Fun to watch, maybe, but not fun enough for Rivers to want to join the fray.