Doc Rivers love for the Boston Celtics hasn’t changed, praises turnaround

Former Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has nothing but praise for the quick rebuild for the team he says he still loves.

In 2013, current Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers departed the Boston Celtics because he did not want to endure the team’s inevitable rebuilding process.  Just four years later, he finds himself praising his former team’s quick turnaround.

Irony, payback or whatever you want to call it, Rivers now finds himself barely staying afloat in the Western Conference with the Clippers.

That, however, hasn’t stopped the coach from admiring what Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens have done the past four years.

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 01: Kyrie Irving

In an interview with the Boston Herald, Rivers gave accolades to his former boss and successor for their willingness to take the necessary changes in strengthening their team.

“I mean, I think Cleveland and them are obviously the two teams to beat in the East, but this tells you why I think Danny and I were successful together, and it’s why Danny and Brad Stevens, they’ll be successful, is because they’re never scared to make moves or changes,” Rivers told the Boston Herald.  “You think about it, they won the East last year and they have six or seven or eight new players, and they really have changed their identity.  No Avery (Bradley), no (Jae) Crowder, that’s the heart and soul of their defense.”

With only Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown returning from the 2017 Eastern Conference finalists, Ainge set off some major fireworks in first dealing Bradley for Marcus Morris and then packaging Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and that much-coveted Brooklyn first-round pick in exchange for four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving.

That all occurred in addition to the signing for Gordon Hayward. Now the Boston Celtics have the players in place to really challenge the Cavaliers for the East, while at the same time setting themselves up for a bright future.

A sense of regret?

Does Rivers regret his decision to leave Boston?  Not really.  He led the team to a championship in 2008 and challenged for another in 2010.  But, after nine seasons in Boston, he just felt it was time for a new challenge.

“My love for (the Celtics) hasn’t changed,” Rivers said.  “For me, it was time for me to change.  When you’re somewhere for nine years, you don’t think whether it’s the right or wrong decision, you think it’s the right decision for you at that time.  But as far as wanting them to do well, that will never change.  Unless they’re playing me.”

Doc Rivers went on to express love for Ainge and the ownership team and reiterated his praise for the job they have done.  In fact, he called it the best rebuilding job he has ever seen in all of sports.

If not regret for leaving Boston, it certainly sounds like Rivers still bleeds green.