By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
The Doc Rivers "love-in" at the TD Garden last night was one for the ages. The pre-game show featured shots of Doc walking into the building with the local and national media following his every move. Doc stopped to shake hands with reporters, and yes, he even hugged a few of them. Imagine Bill Belichick 20 years from now returning to Gillette Stadium and literally "embracing" the media.
We all loved Doc. He helped bring the Boston Celtics Championship #17. He put together the "new big three." He was the reason Kevin Garnett came to Boston. He brought in Ray Allen. He help turn Paul Pierce from a kid in trouble, into a man, a leader and a captain.
Beyond all this, Doc Rivers is a great guy. As a member of the media it was always a treat to get a Celtics practice assignment because it was a given Doc would say something "good." Doc genuinely liked talking to the media. He is smart, engaging and funny. He never dismissed a question with a non-answer. He was quick with a joke, forthright, and insightful in every interview situation.
Everyone loved Doc. The media, the fans, the owners, the GM, the trainers, the ball boys, right down to the Garden security people. Most importantly, his players loved him. Like a good father he could hand out tough love, and be respected for it.
The ovation last night at the Garden should come as no surprise. Who in their right mind could "boo" Doc Rivers?
Yes, he bolted last spring without saying good-bye. Remember this was all happening when the Bruins were making a run for the Cup, and Aaron Hernandez was hiding out in his house awaiting arrest. We woke up one day and heard Doc was leaving for the left coast. He was under contract, but decided a "rebuild" was not in his immediate future. It was up to the Clippers and Celtics to work out a deal, while Doc kept quiet.
"Obviously, I didn't like the way it played out," he said. "You can portray it any way you want, at the end of the day I felt after nine years, it was time for me to go. It's just time. there didn't have to be anything bad about that."
Doc received his first ovation two minutes before the conclusion of warm ups. He received his loudest ovation after a video montage appeared on the big board high above court side. The crowd went crazy, and Doc waved as he held back tears.
In the post game interview, the tears came back. Doc started to talk about the fan reaction, and was overcome with emotion. For the first time in memory the affable, talkative, Doc Rivers was speechless. After several starts and stops Doc said the words that he never had the chance to say last spring.
"That was just nice. It didn't surprise me because that's just the way - you've got to live here to understand that - that's just the way they are. It's an amazing fan base. It really is. And I want everything to go well for them."
Nine years is a long time in one place. Doc Rivers is starting over in LA. He knows as well as anyone else, the Clippers fans are not the Celtics fans. And there is no doubt, it's the fans in Boston that Doc will miss most.
Fourth of July festivities were a little more than a week away, as we sweated out the Stanley Cup Finals with air conditioners blasting and beaches beckoning.
Nobody knew what Kochi Uehara could do 3 months ago, or much about Danny Amendola. The possibility of the Red Sox being a legitimate contender to win the World Series would have been laughable.
There was plenty to celebrate Tuesday night, and no better place to do it than the floor of the Garden.
Imagine a crowded cocktail party, with ice sculptures. (of course) It's a low lit atmosphere at center ice with nice music and great food. Look up, you see the banners. Look around, and you see thousands of yellow seats. Look to your left, there is Ray Bourque. Look to your right, there is Doug Flutie. In comes Aly Raisman, followed by a gaggle of young girls taking pictures and begging for autographs. Dave Cowens waves hello. Derek Sanderson holds court. Robert Kraft arrives with Vince Wilfork. And none other than Jack Nicklaus is in the house.
I had the pleasure of catching up with some of Boston's best while shooting a new TV show called "Life is Great New England." It certainly felt that way Tuesday night. Here are some my favorite snippets.
Doug Flutie on his legacy:
Doug Flutie on his legacy:
" As an athlete, it's going to go back to my Boston College days. The play well be remembered, the pass in Miami. I think more than that for Gerard and I, we were the class that kick started Boston College football. That was our legacy. As for my personal legacy, maybe it's just as a competitor, a winner, and a guy tho went out there and gave it everything he had- and really enjoyed the game and played it with a lot of emotion."
Aly Raisman- advice to young gymnasts:
Derek Sanderson on Bobby Orr:
There aren't many occasions when so many athletes from so many sports meet in one place. Thanks to The New England Sports Museum and all the fine folks at the Garden for another memorable and fun evening.
Life is Great New England!
Bob Lobel, Doug Flutie, and Alice Cook
There's a bottomless mug that sits on one very important desk at the TD Garden which reads "It's all good."
The slogan is actually the motto that colleagues, friends, and family know Amy Latimer, newly appointed president of the TD Garden, lives by and is the reason it's on prominent display on her office desk in Boston.
On September 20th, Latimer's new title became official and very public.
"The outpouring of support was amazing," Latimer said. "It's exciting! My family is really proud. I was really touched by the Sports Business Journal and the lead story, "Chasing Amy." I got hundreds of emails, and I don't usually get shocked, but that shocked me."
But the fact of the matter is, Latimer shouldn't be shocked. She has worked for the TD Garden, one of the top sports and entertainment venues in the world, since its opening in 1995 and has now assumed the venue's top post -- not to the surprise of her colleagues.
NHL Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins President Cam Neely occupies the office next to Latimer at TD Garden and spends countless hours in meetings with her.
"Amy will do a fantastic job as President of the TD Garden as she has a great understanding of what it takes to be in this position to help run a building with two professional sports teams, as well as the numerous other events that the TD Garden hosts," said Neely. "Amy also has a wonderful working relationship with both TD Garden and Boston Bruins associates which will help make this transition for her much smoother."
The transition to her current role came about a year ago. Latimer, then Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the TD Garden and Boston Bruins, began to take on more responsibility, as former President John Wentzell transitioned into his role as President of Delaware North Companies Boston and Delaware North's operations in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Latimer, along with Hugh Lombardi, TD Garden's Sr. Vice President/General Manager, were co-leading the operation of the TD Garden.
"We got to be more involved with the human resources aspect of the business, gained more insight into the budgeting side, and had more communications with Delaware North from a global standpoint," Latimer said.
Latimer's day to day responsibility has certainly changed as she calls it, "shedding some of my Bruins." She recently spent three days visiting other venues to see how the TD Garden can make improvements for future opportunities in her own venue down the road.
"I'm taking care of the house now, more so than before."
And that house gets pretty busy. Home to the NHL's Boston Bruins and the NBA's Boston Celtics along with numerous concerts, sporting and entertainment events, the TD Garden facilitates showbiz for millions of people on a yearly basis.
But the fondest memories for Latimer in her 17 years on Causeway Street were the two championships won in a three-year span (Celtics - 2008, Bruins - 2011).
"I don't know what event matches the energy of the playoffs and in particular the Finals," she said. "It was electric. You start every season thinking this is the year for your team, and to see it come through and happen is an amazing ride. I wouldn't trade that experience or energy rush for the world.
"It was so important for us to capitalize on those playoffs, from a fan perspective and a business standpoint."
Her rise to the top in a male dominated industry is familiar territory for Latimer. A mother of three boys (Jackson, 14, Grant, 12, Harrison, almost 11), Latimer credits her supportive husband of 17 years, Jody, with helping to keep things in order in their life.
"He's a saint! Good husband," she said. "It's more of a partnership these days. There are people who have traditional roles in their marriage but if you have two parents who are working it is a balance. I take doctor appointments, Jody has dentists. There are responsibilities we both have, and that is really important.
"I try not to miss anything in my sons' lives. My kids get it. There are very few times where I have said to them, 'I'm not going to be there,' and they understand."
Despite making breakfast for her kids every day, baking on the weekend in her newly renovated kitchen, dusting off her antique collection of fine china and playing for her town's women's softball team 'Luscious Ladies' on Tuesday nights, the self-proclaimed "wanna-be Martha Stewart" doesn't try to pretend for a minute that she has it all.
In fact, she doesn't think that "having it all" exists.
"What exactly does that mean? I don't even know," Latimer said. "I'm tossed salad sometimes, like I didn't charge the camcorder or I can't find the camera and I need to ask a friend to take a picture of my kid. I've done that more than I care to, but really? My kid is not going to end up in therapy because of it."
With three active boys and her nephew all living under the same roof, getting everyone off to school is perhaps a more difficult task than the day to day grind of her job at the TD Garden.
"Oh my gosh, organized chaos!" she said. "Well the good news is there's not a lot of drama about clothing. The best thing about boys is it's food, ball and a roof over their head.
"I am such a fan of kids enjoying sports. In a team sport you learn very early that you can't pick your coach, which means you can't pick your boss. Most of the time you can't pick the other kids on the team so you have to learn to work with all these personalities for that same goal. Work-life balance early on in life is the best thing you can do for a kid, giving them all those tools to succeed in life."
So how did this Maryland gal and former University of Rhode Island basketball star do it?
"You work hard, and do your job, and it shines through," she said. "I have always believed that nice things happen to nice people."
Latimer's sense of humor, combined with her "It's all good" attitude is what makes people feel at ease around her. She approaches every day with a lighthearted mentality.
"There's an openness when people realize you are truly dedicated to your job, you want to do the best for the organization and have their best interest at hand," she said. "No one is going to stand in the way of that. It would be pretty tough."
Latimer sees the female role in team management increasing, especially with women occupying an analytical role within the business. She believes a woman can most certainly handle the operation on the team side and business side.
"I see many doors opening up in the future," she said. "It's exciting! I think there will be more and more women, I don't know when and I don't know who the next ones are, but I see women who are very bright and will be very successful in this industry."