Five People Who Thought Doc Rivers Sucked
So ends the Doc Rivers era in Boston. He spent nine years as the coach here, tied with Tommy Heinsohn for the second longest tenure in Celtics franchise history (the longest run, of course, belonged to Red Auerbach). If there’s one thing Rivers’ time here should have taught us, it’s that you need to have really good players to win (duh). When Rivers had a crummy roster, he seemed to most of us to be a crummy coach. Once he got a great roster, suddenly he was one of the NBA’s top coaches and making $7 million per year.
Just for fun, let’s go back and look at some of the people who wanted Doc gone at some point during his tenure.
1. Bill Simmons, during the 2005-2006 season:
Doc Rivers stinks as an NBA coach.
After watching him butcher my favorite team for 15 months and 134 games, I feel pretty comfortable making that assessment. On the surface, Doc seems fine. He always dresses nicely, his interviews are good, and his “Come on, guys, let’s go!” clap ranks among the best in the league. When his team blows a winnable game—which happens often, by the way—you can always count on him to look sufficiently disappointed, almost like how Tony Almeida looks on “24” whenever Jack decides to disobey him. Doc has that look down pat. And if you weren’t paying attention, you would almost think that he wasn’t the problem here.
Well, I think he’s the problem.
2. The guy who started a “Fire Doc Rivers” blog back in ’06.
3. The guy who started a “Fire Doc Rivers” petition—the date here is unclear, but you have to imagine it was somewhere around 2005-2007, which is impressive since that was before online petitions were really a thing.
4. Yours truly: “They should fire Doc Rivers!” -Me, sometime in 2006, probably.
5. Oh, everybody at the Garden. Let’s go to November 24, 2006, during a game against the Knicks. From Shira Springer’s game story the next day in the Globe:
With 2 minutes 40 seconds remaining last night and the Celtics’ deficit rapidly approaching 30 points, a group of strong-voiced fans in section 301 in the upper deck at the soldout TD Banknorth Garden started shouting, “Fire Doc.” By the two-minute mark, fans in loge picked up the chant. For the second game in a row, the Celtics showed a shocking lack of effort and intensity that could only be described as embarrassing.
Summoning more focus than they displayed all game long, the starters on the Boston bench ignored the chorus of voices critical of coach Doc Rivers and stared at the court as New York completed a 101-77 victory. As the clock expired, the scattered chants changed to boos.
Charitably, Springer noted, “For all the puzzling substitutions by Rivers, for all his questionable late-game decisions, for all the empty promises about improved defense, the blame for the loss should be roundly shared.”
The point here isn’t that everybody was an idiot for wanting Doc to get fired when the Celtics stunk. We were frustrated. Simmons has argued that Rivers grew into a better coach over his time in Boston, and there’s definitely something to that. There’s also something to the fact that he suddenly got really good players. If nothing else, the Doc Rivers experience ought to teach us to have some patience with whoever the next coach is. The Celtics are going through a rebuilding phase and won’t be challenging for a title for little while. That’s not the new coach’s fault, so we ought to cut him at least a little slack … That is, unless the C’s get off to a really bad start. Then, we chant.