To me, the Olympics means falling in love with athletes I won’t care about in 30 days; drooling about sports I won’t watch for another four years (read: handball); becoming heartbroken when an athlete I didn’t know existed until 24 hours ago gets edged by 0.09 seconds; Googling “Tunisia basketball Olympic roster;” reading Tweeted death threats about NBC executives who chose to tape delay certain events; turning into a Schved-head; screaming at my television, “THAT WAS A MOTHER-FLIPPING PERFECT 10, YOU STUPID SON OF A BITCH,” even though I actually have no idea whether it was a mother-flipping perfect 10; and pondering important questions, like ”do you think Marcelo Huertas would have been a ginormous upgrade over Keyon Dooling?” or “is that really Mr. Bean?”
To Doc Rivers, in four years, if Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski has his way, the Olympics will mean coaching a team that isn’t the Boston Celtics.
Rivers has no regrets about leaving Marquette for the NBA draft in the spring of 1983, missing his chance to play with Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Wayman Tisdale in the summer of ’84. If Rivers had naively trusted the word of an NBA executive who promised he’d select him in the first round, only to drop into the second, the choice never haunted him. After 13 seasons as an excellent NBA guard, Rivers has used his 13 years since to develop into one of the NBA’s elite coaches. He’s blended his abilities as a leader and a tactician to create a model owners everywhere keep trying to emulate in hiring.
He’s come to London to work in the studio for NBC Sports on Olympic basketball, but his trip’s been an excuse to grab a notebook and visit Spain and Brazil and Argentina practices. He has a resumé with USA Basketball, including one job as a gold-medal assistant in the Goodwill Games. USA Basketball will be searching for a national team coach in 2016, and however the structure of Olympic basketball changes, Rivers is an ideal candidate.
I’ll try to gather my thoughts on Doc potentially coaching the 2016 Olympics team if it ever becomes more realistic. I should have four years to generate some sort of opinion, which is good because right now I’m stuck mulling the question, “Does it even matter if he coaches another team in the offseason, ignoring the development of 2016 All-Star Fab Melo in the process?”
For now, take a moment to stop and thank Danny Ainge. When the Celtics finished 24-58, crowds of protesters stood outside the TD Garden with picket signs that read only, “FIRE DOC!” They didn’t really, but the masses were proverbially chanting for Doc’s removal after he managed to coax “just” 24 wins out of a team so heavy with “young talent.” Only Ainge and the Celtics front office stood by Rivers when the rest of Boston seemed ready to force Rivers’ head under water until he could no longer breathe, at least on the Celtics’ sideline.
Obviously, Ainge made the right choice. Rivers has been the perfect coach for this crew. Doc’s gotten progressively better with X’s and O’s (he’s now awesome, especially out of time-outs) and Boston’s defense remains at or near the top of the league no matter which defensive specialist assistant coach leaves to join another sideline. Most players love Doc and the ones who don’t (hey, Glen Davis) generally have an over-sized level of knuckleheadedness.