Though a full calendar year has passed since he left for Los Angeles, Doc Rivers spent his Sunday talking Celtics.
Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald caught up with the former Boston head coach at the NBA summer league in Orlando. Below are some highlights from their sit-down.
On Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s strategy for bringing the team back to contention:
“I think Danny’s going to be patient. I mean, everybody wants to win now, but sometimes you just have to be patient. I thought we did a great job with that when I was there, and I think Danny’s going to do it again. I think Danny’s as good as anybody. It’s funny. He has the nickname ‘Trader Danny,’ but he knows when to do that. I think he’ll be fine.”
On his replacement, Brad Stevens:
“I love him. I’ve been getting to know him, and I have major respect for him. He’s first class. We always get back to each other right away. But he’s going through it now. He knows it’s a long-term plan, but it’s still hard.”
“It’s good that he has Danny. In my first few years, Danny would come in and say, ‘Doc, we’re good. You’re good.’ I don’t know how many times he would come in and say, ‘Hey, man, I’m sorry. I told you this was going to be hard. I understand what you have out there. Just know I know the type of coach you are. Just hang in there with me.’ I thought there were times when Danny thought I was thinking, ‘I can’t take this anymore.’ I was never at that point, but it was frustrating.”
On the difficulty of losing as a large-market team:
“Oh, it was brutal. There’s no fun losing. I mean, losing sucks. I don’t care where you’re at. And the bigger the franchise, the harder it is to lose. Being in LA this year and watching what Mike (D’Antoni) had to go through with the Lakers, I felt for him. I know how it is. I’ve been there. I would assume it was the same for Woody (Mike Woodson) in New York.
“When you lose for franchises like that, it’s hard. It’s hard because you know you’re doing the right thing by the franchise, but you know personally for you it’s brutal. You know, any competitive person that says they’re OK with losing is not being genuine.”
On Al Jefferson, one of the players the Celtics dealt to assemble the Big Three:
“I don’t know if there’s any other place where a guy is there for so short a time and people always love them. I guarantee you when Al comes into Boston, he’s still one of the favorites — and he hasn’t played there for (seven) years. That’s cool.”