Doc Rivers left the Boston Celtics when it became obvious that their championship window had closed. Ray Allen had already signed with the Miami Heat, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are clearly nearing the end of their careers. Rajon Rondo is still recovering from a torn ACL. Rather than rebuilding with Boston, Rivers has chosen to coach the more championship-ready Los Angeles Clippers.
Despite the obvious facts, Rivers has been reluctant to openly admit that he walked out on the Celtics. During an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Felger and Mazz Show” in Boston on Monday, Doc was asked if he walked out on his former team.
“I did at the end of the day,” Rivers admitted. “You make choices in your life, it happens … It was a very difficult decision for me to make; whether to walk away and sit a couple of years, which was another way I was leaning, or if the right job presented itself to walk away and do that.
“I was afforded a great opportunity here with the Clippers. This is the first time I’ve been able to coach a team and run a team. This may work, it may not work. It’s a far bigger gamble for me than anyone else. So I thought it was the right time to take it.”
By that, Rivers means he has more control with the Clippers than he did with the Celtics. Danny Ainge is ultimately in charge of all roster and personnel decisions in Boston, and he did a fairly good job of bringing in the right pieces during Doc’s career with the C’s. Even though Rivers admitted to bailing on Boston, he said he would be disappointed if Celtics fans booed him in his return to TD Garden on Wednesday.
“I’m sure some will, but I was booed at times as a coach,” he said. “That’s fine, but I don’t anticipate that. I’d be surprised by that, and if it happens it happens. I’d be disappointed by it, of course, but I’m a human being.”
Over the summer, Rivers got into a fairly animated war of words with Bill Simmons when Simmons called him out for walking out on a rebuilding project. He still may not like Simmons, but it sounds like Doc has changed his tune a bit.