One of the many, many things that bothers me about this Doc Rivers saga is the way Celtics fans have consistently brought up Doc’s words at the beginning of his contract.
From a WEEI interview right after he signed his long-term contract:
“Coaches talk about loyalty and team all the time, and I just thought it was time to show it,” Rivers said. “And that’s what I did.”
Lots of commentators and even more Twitter users have thrown this phrase around as conclusive proof that Rivers should be attacked for his disloyalty and for his desire to coach elsewhere. Setting aside that these fans are holding Rivers to one phrase uttered two years ago, Steve Bulpett’s latest column for the Boston Herald would seem to counter this mentality a bit.
Doc Rivers never planned to be a part of the Celtics’ rebuilding process, and the club was basically aware of that fact when he signed his latest contract, a source told the Herald today. [...]
Sources said those quotes were designed to give the Celtics the stability they were seeking at the time as they tried to keep Pierce and Garnett while attracting free agents to complement them.
“(He) had to say those things,” said one source. “That’s what the team wanted to project, and that was part of the reason for the five-year contract when they knew it probably wasn’t going to be (completed). The Celtics also knew if he wanted to step down, they’d be able to get something for him if he wanted another job before the fifth year was up.”
There is a ton of interesting, revealing information in that piece, and I won’t block quote any more of it because you should go over and look at the original source. It’s well worth the click.
But this is perhaps one of the more enlightening quotes we’ve seen throughout these negotiations. Many people have expressed surprise that Doc, who has proved to be an affable, likable person throughout his career in Boston, could turn on the Celtics so severely.
If Bulpett is correct (and throughout these negotiations, he and a few other Celtics beat writers have been absolute superstars), this sheds some light on the situation. After all, we probably should have expected that some of Doc’s loyalty quotes were a rallying call for the troops. If the Celtics were well aware that Doc didn’t intend to stay through a rebuilding era, and they still wanted him around, I’m not sure we have a lot of room to complain. Doc isn’t pulling a fast one on the management if management knew the whole time that this was coming. Can we blame a coach for saying things the organization put in his mouth? For my money, the answer is no.
What’s more, it seems pretty likely that Doc agreed to the terms of his contract, his non-compete clause in particular, because the inclusion had the potential to benefit the Celtics in the long run. The Celtics approached Doc first this offseason and asked if he’d be interested in coaching elsewhere, according to Bulpett’s source. And according to that source, Doc gave them the go-ahead to see where he could bring Boston back the biggest return. I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time being angry about that.
One other point, just because I find it funny: Doc was asked if he would be interest in coaching the Nets (who, you may recall, inquired about his availability) and he essentially said no because they fired Avery Johnson, his friend.
Essentially, Doc denied a team’s interest in him because of…well…loyalty. The irony is strong with this one.
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