What it is to be Doc Rivers. Widely regarded as one of the NBA’s top head coaches. Beloved by the fan base of a team in one of America’s biggest sports’ towns in Boston. Craved for by the fan base of a team in another huge sports’ town LA. In fact, Rivers has the luxury of pretty much picking any open head coaching position he fancies, and his legacy probably isn’t even under threat.
How does an NBA head coach reach such heights? This is an era where only five of the NBA’s head coaches were hired before June 2010. Only five teams, out of a league of 30, have stuck with their current head coach for more than three years. Gregg Popovich is by far the longest tenured having started coaching in 1996. Rivers is currently second taking his post in 2004. Erik Spoelstra, Rick Carlisle (Dallas) and Scott Brooks (Oklahoma City) all took their positions at the end of the 2007-08 NBA season.
At least 12 teams will start with fresh new coaches heading into the 2013-14 season. If Rivers does leave Boston then that will be a total of 13. That’s only just less than half the league.
However, in spite of all that, Rivers is in a position where one team is willing to trade significant assets to acquire his services, and another might yet still forgive him after he showed such flagrant disloyalty to the franchise.
Rivers’ coaching record only really tells part of the story. Sure, he has a good resume. The 2008 NBA championship is certainly nice. An appearance in the 2010 NBA finals and 2012 conference finals also brought this team pretty close. However, Doc’s record is also pretty much aligned with the players that he has. When the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to pair with Paul Pierce; Rivers found a way to win. However, the two seasons before those acquisitions Rivers managed to win just 57 games in total. Before being gifted that roster Rivers had lost in the first round in all four of his playoff appearances across his coaching stints with Orlando and Boston.
Still, there is something more to the 51-year old. He’s a good coach. A good X’s and O’s man, but more than that he is a tremendous motivator. He is a man who can make a franchise and a roster believe in itself. He is a man that can convince Chris Paul that the Clippers’ are a serious franchise. He is a man who can make a young roster, playing in a city that is used to cheering a very different team, believe that it is a real championship contender.
Rivers may or may not move to LA. He may or may not coach next season. However, there’s no doubt that his head coaching stint in Boston has left its mark. There’s no doubt that he has more believers than non-believers. There’s no doubt that he will take on a big time NBA head coaching role again sometime in the future.