Without Pat Riley, Doc Rivers wonders if he would be coach

May 4, 2022, 10:54 PM | Updated: May 5, 2022, 10:55 am

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers yells from the sidelines during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Monday, May 2, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

MIAMI (AP) — Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers would probably need hours to explain everything that he’s learned from Miami President Pat Riley over the last three decades.

Or he could sum it up in three words.

“Gosh, everything really,” Rivers said.

Some elements of this Philadelphia-Miami Eastern Conference semifinal series — the Heat lead 2-0 going into Game 3 on Friday night — go back further than this season, or this past summer, or anytime recently. They go back to 1992, when Riley was coaching the New York Knicks and they swung a trade for Rivers to come run their offense.

Rivers, who had already been in the league for nine seasons, most of those with Atlanta, including an All-Star year in 1987-88, immediately became a Riley disciple. And even though they’ve been on different sides of battles for years — this is the fourth time Rivers has faced the Heat in the playoffs since Riley arrived, with Miami winning two of the three previous series — there is a clear respect that remains, born from the time they spent together long ago.

“I’ve been around some pretty good guys,” said Rivers, whose former coaches also include names like Mike Fratello, Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich. “But Riley, clearly, had the biggest impact. It’s not even close. I mean, I had no thoughts of coaching until I played for Pat Riley and the way he did it, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool.’ “

Riley was the last coach to ever use Rivers as a starting point guard in the NBA. They were together for parts of three seasons in New York; perhaps ironically, their last game together was a loss to Miami in December 1994. Rivers got traded to San Antonio, Riley wound up leaving the Knicks for the Heat less than a year later.

Both have been champions since, Rivers with the Celtics in 2008, Riley with the Heat in 2006, 2012 and 2013. And here they are again.

“Doc always played the game like he was a coach on the floor,” Riley said this week. “That’s how he played at Atlanta, that’s what I saw in him, and I just believed that he had the qualities to get into the coaching profession.”

For Riley, that wasn’t an idea.

He made it a requirement.

When Rivers retired from playing, he began working as a basketball broadcaster. Riley didn’t exactly approve of that development — and let Rivers know that when his former player was working a playoff series that Riley was coaching.

“I didn’t like his commentating or his criticism of me, his ex-coach,” Riley said.

Turns out, there was also a bigger reason for Riley pushing Rivers from the broadcast spot back to the bench. He continued believing that Rivers had the background, knowledge and temperament needed to be a winner on the sideline.

“When I did TV for three years, every day he would call me or challenge me,” Rivers said. “He would belittle me, literally. … I used to think he was wrong. He ended up being right.”

There’s no arguing that point. Riley was right. Rivers was destined to coach. He’s ninth in all-time wins, fourth all-time in playoff wins, has gotten to the NBA Finals twice, won the title once and is a past Coach of the Year.

And when Riley heard Rivers thanking him earlier this week for planting those seeds, he was appreciative.

“He’s turned out to be one of the all-time great coaches,” Riley said. “I was proud to have coached him. And I’m proud of what he’s saying here.”


More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bump & Stacy Show


FILE - New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner stops to talk to the media before attending a meetin...
Associated Press

Steinbrenner realizes may take record price to keep Judge

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner realizes there is a chance the price may be going up to sign Aaron Judge to a long-term contract after the star slugger’s outstanding first half. Judge turned down an eight-year contract worth $230.5 million to $234.5 million, cutting off talks ahead of the April 8 opener and saying he wouldn’t […]
1 day ago
FILE - Noah Gragson prepares on pit road for the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Daytona Interna...
Associated Press

NASCAR penalizes Gragson for intentional Road America crash

NASCAR on Wednesday penalized Noah Gragson for a deliberate and dangerous crash he caused in the Xfinity Series race at Road America. Gragson, who turns 24 later this month, was docked 30 points and fined $35,000 by NASCAR for intentionally crashing into Sage Karam on Saturday at the road course in Wisconsin. Gragson’s swerve into […]
1 day ago
FILE - Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield walks on the field before an NFL football game a...
Associated Press

Browns trade quarterback Baker Mayfield to Panthers

CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield’s rocky run with Cleveland officially ended Wednesday when the Browns traded the divisive quarterback and former No. 1 overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers for a future draft pick. Mayfield, who was pushed out of his starting job by the Browns’ pursuit of Deshaun Watson, is going to Carolina […]
1 day ago
Australia's Nick Kyrgios lies on the ground after defeating Chile's Cristian Garin during a men's s...
Associated Press

Nick Kyrgios reaches 1st Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Give Nick Kyrgios credit for honesty: Even he did not think this day ever would arrive. The talented, tempestuous Australian is a semifinalist at Wimbledon. Kyrgios became the first unseeded and lowest-ranked man to get to the final four at the All England Club since 2008 by playing what, for him, […]
1 day ago
U.S golfer Colin Morikawa playing the 9th hole during the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor, Ireland...
Associated Press

Morikawa caring less about No. 1 and more about winning

NORTH BERWICK, Scotland (AP) — Collin Morikawa was one round away from reaching No. 1 in the world, staked to a five-shot lead in the Bahamas and needing only to win. Seven months later, No. 1 feels like a mile away. Morikawa shot 76 in the final round last December and began the new year […]
1 day ago
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a heari...
Associated Press

Biden tells Griner’s wife he’s working to get her home

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday with the wife of detained WNBA player Brittney Griner, who is on trial in Russia, to reassure her that he is working to win Griner’s freedom as soon as possible, the White House said. Biden’s conversation with Cherelle Griner followed Brittney Griner’s personal appeal to the president […]
1 day ago
Without Pat Riley, Doc Rivers wonders if he would be coach