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Doc Rivers admits walked away from Celtics. Great. Can we all move on now?

Dec 11, 2013, 12:08 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

Boston fans felt jilted by Doc Rivers — they thought he would stay with them through the pain of rebuilding, instead he took off for the hot young thing in Los Angeles. Outside Boston few blamed him, in Boston fans felt dumped. Rivers kept saying it was mutual, Celtics fans were having none of it.

Even though Boston rebounded well — Brad Stephens is showing he can coach at the NBA level, the Celtics play smart and hard for him — still it feels a little awkward with him coming back to town Wednesday night with his Clippers to face the Celtics. Some Celtics fans seem to need some kind of closure.

Tuesday Rivers went on the Felger & Mazz radio show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and owned up to leaving the team, as reported at CBS Boston (via Eye on Basketball).

“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,” Rivers continued. “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.”

There, he admitted it. Can we all just end this and move on now? Brad Stevens is a great guy and this is a fun Celtics team. Savor that.

We will see what kind of reception Rivers gets. From my seat he deserves a warm welcome back — he was there 9 years and brought that team a ring and some great memories. He loved Boston, it was just time for both sides to move on.

Rivers talked again about how much he loved being back in the city, seeing old friends and eating in his favorite restaurants. It clearly still means a lot to him.

“Tomorrow will be an emotional day for me, I can tell you that,” said Rivers.

  1. jcmeyer10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Thank you. Doc left in a crummy way but I would much rather have an inspired Stevens than a mailing it in Rivers.

    If I was going I would cheer. We had a competitive team for many years because of his handling of veterans and we are better off now with the right coach. What more could the Celts fans ask for?

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      Boston pro sports teams (I don’t follow and won’t include hockey) are probably the best run teams…

  2. titansbro - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    I think Celtics fans would’ve gotten over it much quicker had he not lied about it for so long. They would’ve understood that he didn’t want to go into a rebuilding effort but why did he sign that contract knowing that it was coming? People here still mostly like Doc & are appreciative of what he accomplished, but that was a terrible way to end it on his part.

  3. 1historian - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Doc left because he didn’t want to coach a bunch of youngsters. There was some fibbing at the time but it was pretty obvious from the outset.

    To heal their wounds the Celts have the Clippers’ 1st round choice in 2015, they have a promising young team with a brand new rookie coach who looks as if he can coach at this level, they have 9 1st round draft choices over the next 5 years, and they’ll probably have a lottery pick in 2014 and next year’s draft is supposed to be one of the best in years.

    And – Jersey is not playing too well and the Celts have their pick.

    Granted the parting was not too pleasant but look at it this way – every season’s end over the last few years there has been speculation about how long Doc would stick around, no matter how the Celts did. Now he’s gone, we’ve got a 1st rounder for him, we have a rookie coach who looks like the real deal and the future looks bright.

    • 1kar120c - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      The Celtics currently own the Nets’ 2014 pick but Atlanta has the right to swap its #1 for that pick after the draft order is determined.

    • scalfor3 - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      Unfortunately, the Hawks have the right to switch picks with the Nets as part of the Joe Johnson deal. Celts will probably end up with Atlanta’s pick, not as good but the Celts have found some steals (Sullinger, Bradley) in recent years picking from that range. Real benefits will come down the road, I believe they have unprotected firsts in 2016 and 2018 from Brooklyn.

      And yes, that means it’s possible that the Nets traded a top 5 pick in the deepest draft in over a decade for Joe Johnson and Joe Johnson’s contract. Billy King, everybody!

  4. csbanter - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Boston fans are always complaining despite the fact they have good NFL,MLB and NHL teams. Knock it off……lol

    • jcmeyer10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      Haha I have to deal with it every day. Some Red Sox fan called in AFTER the Sox won the World Series to complain about Farrell platoons.

  5. miamiheatdynasty - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Can Ray Allen get his apology from Paul Pierce and KG? Until then its not over.

  6. sportsfan18 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Like him or hate him, Bill Simmons (a true life long Celtic) was right about Doc and how he left.

    It just took Doc from the summer until now to be able to admit it publicly.

    • jcmeyer10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      He was right, but Celtic’s fans got the long end of the stick in the situation. Why do we have to be all bitter like a jolted ex-lover.

      Thank you Doc for winning a Championship. It wasn’t like Bill O’Brien was going to do it.

      • dudermcrbohan - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        yea, Bill O’Brien is a little preoccupied coaching the football team at Penn State.

      • jcmeyer10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        Touche, meant Jim typed Bill.

  7. 1kar120c - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    The Celtics currently own the Nets’ 2014 pick but Atlanta has the right to swap its #1 for that pick after the draft order is determined.

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