Multiple players have left Orlando in recent weeks to deal with family emergencies, with Zion Williamson being the most notable name. The New Orleans Pelicans said this week that Williamson has been getting tested for COVID-19 every day while he’s away and has tested negative each time.
Rivers, who is averaging 8.5 points per game this season, will have to quarantine for at least four days when he returns to Orlando. There are certain situations where players could have to quarantine for up to two weeks, but each case is handled differently.
Several NBA players have complained about what life is like inside the bubble campus in Orlando, but LeBron James has said very little since he arrived at Walt Disney World. Austin Rivers has one theory that may explain why LeBron has been so quiet.
Rivers answered some questions from Orlando during a takeover of SLAM’s Instagram live on Tuesday, and several fans asked the Houston Rockets guard if he has seen LeBron around. Rivers joked that LeBron isn’t staying with the rest of the players and probably has an entire building to himself.
Players have complained about everything from the food situation to the lack of luxurious hotel rooms inside the NBA bubble. Others think it is just fine and realize the situation could be much worse. Unless LeBron does have an entire building to himself, it’s safe to assume his situation in Disney World is a big step down from what he’s accustomed to.
Kyrie Irving is leading the charge against the NBA’s restart plan, suggesting that he would sit out as a form of protest against racism and injustice. One of his fellow players understands his reasons, but doesn’t think Irving would be doing the movement any good by following through.
Austin Rivers posted a social media reply on Saturday questioning whether Irving’s proposal for players to refuse to play would actually have its desired effect. Rivers noted that by showing up, NBA players would receive their salaries — money they could use to fight injustice. He also added that not every player was making as much money as Irving and some would face a tougher choice between fighting injustice and their livelihood.
Austin Rivers on Kyrie Irving, restarting the season: "I love Kyrie's passion towards helping this movement…I'm with it…but in the right way & not at the cost of the whole NBA & players careers. We can do both. We can play & we can help change the way black lives are lived." pic.twitter.com/GMmyVz9nEF
Rivers makes a lot of excellent points here and gives those in Irving’s camp something to think about. While some are concerned that the return of the league could distract from the ongoing protests, that seems less likely if players continue to find ways to raise awareness and protest themselves.
Irving is passionate about fighting racism and injustice, and that was clear on his call with other players. But there’s a lot to consider here about the best way NBA players can help that movement. It’s a discussion they’re continuing to have even as the restart draws closer.
Kyrie Irving was a one-and-done player at Duke and became the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. You figure a guy like that was long heralded as a top prospect, but according to Austin Rivers, Irving was unknown to many for a while.
Rivers had Sam Cassell as a guest on his “Go Off” podcast and told the story of how Irving showed up at a Deron Williams Skills Academy camp several years ago and stunned everyone.
Keep in mind that Irving was a class ahead of Rivers in school, and Rivers — possibly due to his father Doc being a well-known coach — was hyped as a recruit. This camp probably took place in the late 2000s
“We were there. It was all the top-ranked guys — Brandon Knight, Dion Waiters, Josh Selby, anybody you could name, John Wall, all these guys were there. And I remember they had this kid Kyrie. I think it was in New Jersey, where he’s from. They brought in a local kid. He was the local kid. He wasn’t even supposed to be there. He was like the kid they brought. So they brought in Kyrie. There were only like 20 of us — it was very intimate,” Rivers recalls.
Rivers says they then began doing some drills, and that’s when Irving started to shine and command attention.
“Kyrie gets in the one-on-one drill and starts wearing out everybody. Everyone’s like, ‘who the —-?’ I’ve never heard of this guy’s name. I’m like ‘who the hell is this dude?’”
“So Deron Williams hops in the game. Mind you this is his camp, he was an All-Star during that time. They’re going back and forth. Kyrie’s hitting him with some s—.”
Rivers says Irving’s domination at that academy helped the future No. 1 pick get on the map and says Kyrie soon “blew up” after that in notoriety.
Irving eventually went to Duke but only played 11 games due to a foot injury. He became the No. 1 pick in 2012 by the Cavs and eventually teamed with LeBron James to help them win a championship. Now Irving is teaming up with Kevin Durant on the Nets in a move they had planned for a bit.
An image of a considerably slimmed-down James Harden made the rounds on the Internet last week, and now one of his teammates is putting a figure on it.
In an Instagram Live broadcast this week, Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers commented on the bearded superstar’s recent weight loss.
“Y’all can call it what you want but ‘beefy’ Harden was averaging 36 [points per game] so I don’t even know what skinny Harden is gonna do,” said Rivers, per Space City Scoop. “He definitely lost a cool 20 pounds.”
Though quick and athletic in his own regard, the former MVP is more known for his craftiness and ability to shift gears, so it will be interesting to see how the weight loss impacts his game. For the Rockets, who were sixth in the West when play was suspended, a more slender Harden can only be a positive.
The apple may not fall far from the tree when it comes to the Rivers family.
In a Facebook Q&A this week with broadcaster Craig Ackerman, Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers spoke on his interest in becoming an agent, front office executive, or even a coach like father Doc after his playing career is over.
“I’ve always seen me in the business side of things — either a player agent, or being a GM or president,” said Rivers, per Ben DuBose of USA TODAY. “I’ve always wanted to be in the front office. I love the business side of basketball, and I know it well. I guess the pedigree, and me learning and knowing the game my whole life and being around it. I just think it’s something I could really do well, and that still stands.
“I will say that over the last couple years, coaching has continued to grow,” added the 27-year-old. “It’s something I didn’t see myself possibly doing, but now, it’s a little itch. I’m starting to get to where I feel like 10 years down the road, or however many years I have left, that is something I would like to get into, possibly.”
Austin’s career path is already looking a lot like his father’s, as Doc had a 14-season career playing in the NBA as a journeyman guard. He then took his first head coaching job with the Orlando Magic in 1999 and has since become a top coach in the league and one of only six active ones to win a title.
Following Doc’s lead by playing for him on the LA Clippers did not go so well for Austin, but perhaps beating his father at his own game as a coach (like how the Van Gundy brothers competed against each other) might work out better.
Austin Rivers seemed like the happiest person in the Toyota Center when his father Doc got ejected from Wednesday night’s Los Angeles Clippers-Houston Rockets game, but Doc clearly was not offended.
Doc Rivers was involved in a heated exchange with the officials late in Wednesday’s game, and Austin immediately began motioning to the refs to slap his dad with a technical foul. Austin then trolled Doc on his way off the court after the Clippers coach was ejected. The actions seemed cold, but Austin took to Instagram after the game and had “Love u pops” as part of his caption on a series of photos he posted. Doc was among those who commented on the post, writing “hilarious … Love you.”
Austin celebrating his dad’s ejection seemed to be in good fun, as he also joked about it after the game and sent a funny tweet. If there’s ever a situation where Austin is arguing with an officiating crew in the future and Doc is on the opposing bench, we probably know how the Clippers coach will react.