Doc Rivers’ statesman-like handling of the Donald Sterling fallout has prompted some to suggest he would make a good congressman or ambassador. On Tuesday night, he showed he also might make a good lawyer.
The Los Angeles Clippers coach was in full litigator mode after his team dropped a 105-104 decision to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Thunder mounting a late comeback, Clippers forward Matt Barnes clearly fouled Thunder guard Reggie Jackson on a transition layup attempt. The referees did not call a foul on Barnes. They simply ruled the ball out of bounds off Barnes and awarded OKC the ball. On the next possession, Russell Westbrook hit what eventually became the game-winning free throws.
Afterward, Rivers outlined his oral argument about the Barnes-Jackson play. Sure, Jackson was fouled, Rivers said, but he was the last player to touch the ball before it went out of bounds. The replay was indisputable on that much, though it also was obvious in the replay than Barnes slapped Jackson’s forearm. But since fouls are not reviewable, Rivers said the ball should have belonged to the Clippers.
It is a technicality that would have favored L.A. In essence, Rivers was saying, “Yes, your honor, my client killed those men. He just didn’t do it the way the prosecution says he did.”
Instead, Rivers just said, “We were robbed.”
Check out Rivers’ reaction and the play in question in the videos below.