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Doc Rivers talks about leaving Boston, heaps praise on Garnett

Sep 12, 2013, 4:40 PM EDT

Minnesota Timberwolves v Boston Celtics Getty Images

Doc Rivers was back in Boston, back in the TD Garden Wednesday for a charity event. It had to feel odd to him, knowing in a few weeks he would be on the other coast working with a very different team in Los Angeles.

But of course, while he was there in Boston he was asked by WEEI about his time in the city — through everything Rivers has expressed nothing but love for Boston.

“It’s tough to leave the Celtics because it’s the Celtics,” Rivers said. “It was the best nine years of basketball that I’ve ever been a part of, but I also fell in love with the city. And, for me, the hardest part is leaving the city. I’ve met friends that have changed my life here, and they’ll always be my friends.”

Maybe the biggest complements handed out by Rivers went to Kevin Garnett, who also left Boston and is now a Brooklyn Net.

“Fans never got to see Kevin’s personality,” Rivers said. “I wish the city got to know Kevin more. He’s the single best athlete that I’ve ever been around as far as being a team guy. He’s as ‘team’ of a star as I’ve ever seen. A lot of stars are stars, but he’s unselfish, to a fault at times, but every coach should be able to coach Kevin Garnett just to see what a true team player should be…

“He did a lot of good things that people don’t know,” Rivers said. “When rookies came in, he would bring them up to my office. He’d sit them down, and then he would bring his tailor in and say, ‘If you want to be a pro, you’ve got to dress like a pro.’ And he would buy each rookie two suits, and he did it every year. To me, that says a lot about Kevin Garnett as a teammate.”

It came apart a little awkwardly, but in the end Boston fans will look back on this era fondly. Not just the title in 2008, but also the era that helped put the national spotlight back on one of the league’s great franchises.

Eventually Rivers will get a standing ovation at the Garden when introduced. We’ll see if that happens this year or not.

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