Recently, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers sat down with ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. While doing an interview with John Thompson and Doc Walker, Rivers discussed his feelings on LeBron James’ move to the Heat, the importance of Rajon Rondo to the Celtics and how the Lakers still haven’t beaten his team’s starting five.
On LeBron’s decision to go to Miami:
“Number one I will say this; he had every right to do that. The rules say you can be a free agent and the rules say you can go anywhere you want to. Now how he did it and all that, whatever. I don’t really care about that. If you were a business man 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 so I have no problem with that. Will it work? Eventually it will work. Will it work right away? I coach the Boston Celtics so I hope not. I do think people are all focusing on the wrong thing. I think everybody is talking about shots. Is there enough shots, will they have enough shots, will they be able to play together, whose going to take the last shot and that could cause turmoil, but I think the key for them is will they defend? Because if they defend and get stops, they’re talented enough offensively to get points. The key for them is will they buy into being a defensive unit.”
On what makes Rajon Rondo so good for the Celtics:
“First of all, he’s a stubborn kid and it was good for him. If you play with Kevin Garnett and Paul (Pierce) and Ray (Allen), you better be stubborn because every play they’re open. I tell Rondo the most important year in your vocabulary will be no. To say no because you got the ball and they will listen. The other thing about Rondo is he’s the smartest player that I’ve ever coached. His basketball IQ is off the charts. Now it gets him in trouble at times, but he has great feel, he has huge hands, he can rebound, and the thing that I’m most impressed with is he’s doing this without a jump shot. You think about how dominant he has been. It’s always been said that you cannot win in the NBA with a non-shooting point guard. We’re winning with a non-shooting point guard and we’re winning because of his IQ.”
On his message to Lakers fan Doc Walker:
“Number one you gotta congratulate them because they won. They still have not beaten our starting five. Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring. Tell him don’t forget that. We will be back strong and Perk (Kendrick Perkins) will be there next year if there’s a game seven.”
Rivers makes some interesting points about the Heat. While everyone is focused on there being enough shots for all involved, the team’s success will ultimately boil down far more to the non-scoring aspects of the game. While it can be argued whether team chemistry, coaching or defense will be what plays the largest role in whether or not the Heat win a title this year, the idea that there won’t be enough shots for the “Three Kings” is likely the least of the team’s concerns.
It’s also fascinating that he would discuss Rondo’s stubbornness, considering just the other day he stepped down from Team USA. While the official reason for Rondo’s leave was “family issues,” many suspect that there were other factors involved.
Finally, Rivers’ continuing insistence that life would have been different if only the Lakers had faced the healthy Celtics is interesting. Of course, if Karl Malone hadn’t been injured in 2004, the Lakers would have won the NBA title that year. And if Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza were both healthy in 2008, the Lakers would have beat them. Thus, the Celtics have never really beat the Lakers starting five, have they? The “what if” game really has no place in basketball, but you can always appreciate an NBA head coach pulling at any string they can to fire up their team.
Check out the entire transcript of the interview HERE.
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