As Doc Rivers pondered the possibility of leaving the Boston Celtics to spend a year with his family, one nagging thought wouldn’t leave his mind.
“When you make it that far and you’re one game away, it is very difficult to walk away,” Rivers explained to Yahoo’s Marc Spears.
One game away? Try a few minutes. (Smashing head against computer table.) The agony of defeat still lingers in Doc, and he doesn’t expect it to ever go away. Being that close, that close, has scarred him in a way he doubts will ever disappear.
“It still hurts the same,” Doc said. “That won’t go away. I had dinner with [Rajon] Rondo and ‘Baby’ [Glen Davis] in Vegas and they were talking about how much it hurts. I said, ‘I hope it hurts you for the rest of your life. It should.’ ”
Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Losing an NBA Finals Game 7 in heartbreaking fashion lasts forever. But if there was one positive effect of that game, it was that Doc couldn’t walk away from his team. Not after that. Not with unfinished business. Not with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Celtics organization’s 18th title firmly established in his crosshairs. Not when his family said he should return.
“Family is always going to be major for me; it’s got to be,” Doc told Spears. “Bottom line is I do get to a ton of their games. I watch them a lot. They are all doing well, so they don’t need me around much. At the end of the day, they all said the same thing: ‘You’re a coach and the last time you were here for a year you drove us crazy. Go back and coach.’ ”
Doc’s son Austin, the top-ranked high school senior in the country, explained, “He still has one more good year in him. I want him to go out there and do what he loves best.”
Only one year? Say it ain’t so, Doc. But if what Austin says is true, Doc, you’ve got to do me one favor:
Go out on top. As a champion.
There could be no better way.