Why Doc Rivers Skipped Celtics’ 2008 Championship Celebrations


Apr 12, 2018

Doc Rivers’ life went on immediately after he led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship.

The former Celtics head coach revealed in an article ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz published Wednesday he didn’t join the celebrations the team held at TD Garden following their 2008 NBA championship win.

As the players doused each other with champagne in the locker room after their series-clinching win over the Los Angeles Lakers on June 17, 2008 in Game 6, Rivers sat in his office, first alone, then with his immediate family in quiet contemplation. He then skipped a more formal party the team threw into the arena.

“I never got up,” Rivers said. “No champagne. No goggles. There was a big celebration in the Legends club. I didn’t do any of it.”

Rivers eventually left TD Garden with his family and went home, but he didn’t stay long because his mother was cooking breakfast the next day, and there was little food in his house. So the newly minted championship-winning coach made a late-night journey to the grocery store.

“When I go in the checkout line, the clerk comes around from the cash register and says, ‘What the hell are you doing in here?'” Rivers said. “I said, ‘I’m grocery shopping. We need breakfast.’ She said, ‘That’s true,’ then started shaking her head. I didn’t see it as strange.”

Rivers explained to Arnovitz his reluctance to join the team was rooted in his belief they’d become serial championship winners.

“When my kids showed me the video (they shot of Kevin Garnett celebrating), they said, ‘Where were you? Why didn’t you come in?'” Rivers told Arnovitz. “I don’t even know why. But when I saw it, I thought, ‘I’ll do it next year.'”

But the Celtics reached the NBA Finals just once more during Rivers’ tenure: in 2010 when they lost to the Lakers in seven games.

Nearly a decade later, Rivers counts his non-participation in the Celtics’ 2008 celebrations among the biggest regrets of his NBA career.

“When I look back, I’m like, ‘What the hell are you thinking?'” he said. “I have a few ‘sorries’ in my career, but that would be one of them. But it taught me something — winning is hard.”

Who knew taking care of everyday business could come at such a high cost? With the benefit of Rivers’ experience and hindsight, the answer is “pretty much everyone.”

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
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