Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been all over the place the past few days, from the Golf Channel, where he worked on his swing, to ESPN 980 in Washington, DC, where he chatted it up with Georgetown legend John Thompson. The subject matter ranged from the obligatory Miami Heat conversation to Rajon Rondo being the smartest player Rivers ever coached to Rivers’s belief that it doesn’t make sense for the Lakers to count the titles George Mikan won in Minnesota, especially if they’re not going to display any of his memorabilia.
“They don’t have any of that,” Rivers said. “But they count all his rings ... You’ve won 12 championships, that’s about it. Minnesota won the other ones.”
Here’s a link to the ESPN 980 interview plus a partial transcript.
On the Miami Heat:
No. 1, I’ll say this, he (LeBron James) had every right to do that. The rules say you can be a free agent. The rules say you can go wherever you want to. Now, how he did it and all that, whatever. I don’t care about all that. If you were a businessman, and you owned a business, and you could buy two other businesses and try to create a monopoly, you would do it. That’s what LeBron just did.
Will it work? Eventually, it will work. Will it work right away? Since I coach the Boston Celtics, I hope not. I do think people are all focusing on the wrong thing: shots. Is there enough shots? Will they have enough shots? Will they be able to play together. Who’s going to take the last shot. And that could cause turmoil as you know. I think the key for them is will they defend. Because if they defend, they’re talented enough to score points. And to me, the key for them is will they buy into being a defensive unit.
All players tell you what you want to hear in August. We’re bringing Shaq in. “Shaq, will you come off the bench?” “Absolutely, coach.” “Is 10 or 15 minutes good for you?” “Oh, absolutely, coach.” That sounds great in August, but when you’re actually doing it, it’s tough. Especially, when you’ve been a guy with the ball in your hands.
The biggest issue for Miami -- and we’ll find out if it’s the biggest issue -- is Wade and LeBron are used to having the ball in their hands. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eric [Spoelstra] put LeBron at the point spot. Because I do think he’s one of the best passers of our generation. I think he’s as close to Magic [Johnson] as there’s been. But he’s had to score in Cleveland, and now he might not have to score as much. If he can buy into that big point guard, then we’ve got problems in the league.
On Shaq’s impact and if it will change the Celtics' style of play:
He won’t change our style because we want to run. We have a saying, "Let’s try to score in the first six seconds." If not, you try to execute the heck out of them. So we’re going to try to run and get easy baskets and then we’ll wait for Shaq to come down the floor.
My biggest concern, honestly, is defensively because every time Shaq comes on the floor, everyone’s going to run pick-and-rolls and no one’s been successful in figuring out how to use him, and I’m no smarter than anyone else. So that’s all we’ve been focusing on this summer, is trying to figure out what we’re going to do with pick-and-rolls when he comes into the game.
Reaction to possibly breaking the team up after the Finals:
I was trying to figure out what I was going to do, first. I thought, we were all connected to each other. Paul (Pierce), Ray (Allen), Kevin (Garnett), we all got together and I told them definitely for one more year, if everyone’s coming back, let’s go for it. I thought Danny and the ownership bought into that.
Michael [Jordan] said something yesterday. He never thought they should have ended that run. He thought they had a seventh one in them, but management wanted to go young. You think about it, what was that 14 years ago, they’re still trying to recover from that. Bottom line is, you have a chance to win, you go for it. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
On Rajon Rondo:
First of all, he’s a stubborn kid, and it was good for him. When you play with Kevin Garnett and Paul and Ray, you better be stubborn, because every play they’re open (in their minds). I had Dominique Wilkins, Moses Malone and Reggie Theus one year, and they were hot all game in their minds. So I laugh and tell Rondo, "The most important word in your vocabulary will be ‘no.’ Just say, ‘No.’" Because if you’ve got the ball, they will listen.
The other thing about Rondo, he’s the smartest player, honestly, that I’ve ever coached. His basketball IQ is off the chart. Now it gets him in trouble at times. But he has great feel. He has huge hands. He can rebound. I’m more impressed with him, because he’s doing this without a jump shot. You think about how dominant he’s been, it’s always been said you cannot win in the NBA with a nonshooting point guard, and we’re winning with a nonshooting point guard. And we’re winning because of his IQ.
The influx of young players and the value of veterans:
I have a bunch of veterans and when I say something and the young guys, who all think they know everything already, don’t want to listen, I’ve got Kevin Garnett in their ear saying, "No, this is what we do and this is how we do it." I think it’s very difficult with young guys, because young guys want to prove to you what they can do, they want to establish themselves and they don’t want to be role players. Where veterans have figured it out. "This is what I do. This is who I am. And I’m good with that." That’s why you have to have veterans around them.
I don’t like the influx, I think it’s too many young guys. And it’s not a basketball issue, it’s a maturity issue. I think young guys need to go to college to learn how to live on their own, to learn how to live with no money, no entourage and grow up and then come to the NBA to play basketball. I would change it to the baseball system. And I don’t like that. But I think that’s a better solution. Less guys would come out of high school and then they’d have to stay in college two or three years. It’s not going to happen, but I would love that to happen.
The Lakers:You’ve got to congratulate them, they won. They still have not beaten our starting five. Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring. Tell them, don’t forget that. We’ll be back strong and Perk will be there next year if there’s a Game 7.