Terry Francona: I’m a Big Doc Rivers Fan

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In the hours after the Red Sox dropped an ugly 12-5 decision to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, manager Terry Francona pulled over his car in the middle of a rotary, much to the chagrin of his fellow motorists.

He wasn't lamenting the club's tough night, however. Francona simply knew he would lose his cell service once he got home and he wanted to be the first to send Celtics coach Doc Rivers a congratulatory note as soon as Rivers' crew closed out the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals.

"I didn't want to do it too quick so I endured all the people flipping me off and sent him a note saying, 'Hey, way to go,'" said Francona, who fired off the message once the final horn sounded at TD Garden. "Because I do care. I'm a big fan of the Celtics, but I'm a big Doc fan.

"I like the way he handles everything."

Should Rivers handle everything OK for the next two weeks, he may join Francona as a two-time champion at the helm of a revered Boston sports team, something that few men or women can relate to. But their bond goes back to the days before winning became the norm for the team leaders.

Francona said before Tuesday's Red-Sox-Athletics game at Fenway Park that he has always admired the way Rivers has treated his players, even in the lean years before the Celtics turned things around in 2007-08. That was one reason Rivers was a guest speaker at the Red Sox' rookie camp in January, an appearance that may have meant just as much to Francona as it did to the youngsters.

"I think our kids enjoyed it," Francona said. "They probably didn't enjoy it as much as me. I loved it. I think when he talks, he has a lot to say that's really interesting. I'm a big fan. I like what he stands for."

The schedules do not allow Francona and Rivers to get together often, but the messages of encouragement and support are not uncommon. According to the Sox skipper, Rivers always has an impact.

"In my opinion, Doc has an amazing way, some of the messages I get, the timing of them and what they say," Francona said before trailing off, clearly impressed with the content of the notes. "I think we've kind of developed a friendship there. I've tried to do the same thing to him."

Francona, who has one more title and many more wins than Rivers, tries to take something out of each correspondence with the Celtics coach.

"All the things he believes in I probably agree with," Francona added. "I hope I'm able to get it across to our guys in a way that he does, because I think that he's tremendous."

The Celtics begin pursuit of their 18th NBA title Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Sox have a day game, so there will plenty of time for Francona to get home and catch the action. No need to pull over and wait.

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