Rivers Resurfaces as Coach of the Celtics
The Boston Celtics coaching job was open only a few hours when Danny Ainge decided that Doc Rivers was the guy he wanted.
That doesn’t mean the Celtics’ director of basketball operations didn’t give it a lot of thought.
“The search probably started at the 1988 All-Star Game,” Ainge said Thursday after hiring his teammate from the Eastern Conference team that year. “A friendship probably started there, and a mutual respect.”
Rivers, 42, was hired to replace interim coach John Carroll, who was let go a day after the Celtics were swept from the first round of the playoffs by the Indiana Pacers. Carroll inherited the job when Jim O’Brien quit Jan. 27 because of philosophical differences with Ainge.
Ainge announced Monday that Carroll wouldn’t be back. Then Ainge went to Florida to interview Rivers.
“Danny Ainge called me and asked me to coach the Boston Celtics,” said Rivers, who signed a four-year contract. “If you like basketball, I don’t know how you could say no to that.”
Rivers wasted little time making an impression. Wearing a green Red Sox jersey and hat, Rivers threw out the first pitch before the second game of Boston’s doubleheader with Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
Rivers was 171-168 in five seasons with Orlando before he was fired in November, when the Magic opened with one win and 10 consecutive losses. He has been working for ABC as an analyst, a job he will keep through the NBA Finals.
Rivers takes over a team that is a distant memory of the franchise that amassed a record 16 NBA titles. The Celtics made the playoffs this year with a 36-46 record and were swept by Indiana.
Denver Nugget star rookie Carmelo Anthony tested his sprained left knee with a light workout, though he’s still not sure whether he’ll be ready for tonight’s Game 5 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Right now I feel it’s a gameday decision,” said Anthony, injured in the third quarter of Game 4. “My knee got a little looser, but it’s still tight. I’m going to see how it goes tonight. I’m not going to push the issue.”
The Timberwolves lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1, and can reach the second round for the first time.
Meanwhile, Nugget rookie center Francisco Elson apologized for calling Kevin Garnett “gay” after the Timberwolves’ star hit him in the groin during Game 4.
“I realize my comments were insensitive, and they were out of character for me,” he said in a statement. “However, I take full responsibility, and I have learned a valuable lesson.”