Clippers coach Doc Rivers recalls being on a campaign trip with Rep. John Lewis

Clippers coach Doc Rivers stares from the sideline during a game against the 76ers on Feb. 11 in Philadelphia.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

He has remained true to being an advocate for voting rights, so when Doc Rivers was asked Saturday if he had met Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the Clippers coach responded by lamenting how the fight for Black people and other people of color to vote continues, something the iconic congressman who died Friday fought for in the 1960s.

“Really sad day for our country,” Rivers said to the media via Zoom conference call. “What’s amazing is when you think about right now, some of the stuff that John Lewis was fighting for, we’re still fighting for it. Voter suppression right now is at an all-time high. It’s amazing how hard …

“We have a group of people who are trying to get people not to vote. Latinos, Blacks and young people are the targets. That’s who they are trying to get not to vote. And it’s amazing when you think about how long ago that was and yet we’re still fighting that fight.”

Rivers recalled meeting Lewis when the then guard played for the Atlanta Hawks in the ’80s and early part of the ’90s, and how it left an indelible mark on him when it came to voting.

Rivers said “it is a big deal” to hear about the passing of Lewis, who survived a savage beating in 1965 at a Selma, Ala., bridge during the movement for Black people to have the right to vote.

Clippers center Montrezl Harrell leaves the Disney World campus near Orlando, Fla., after the team practice Friday because of an urgent family matter.

Rivers recalled going on a campaign trip with Andrew Young, who was running to be the governor of Georgia after having been the mayor of Atlanta, along with Lewis. Lewis and Young had been friends and had marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights during the ‘60s.

Rivers said they flew from Atlanta to Albany, Ga., to attend a speech Young was giving at an “all-white church,” and that Young gave an “absolutely amazing speech” and the “crowd was going crazy.”

On the flight back to Atlanta, Rivers said Young asked the young player what he thought of the speech.

“I jokingly said, ‘Well, Mr. Young, I thought the speech was great, but I don’t think you’re getting one vote from that church,’ ” Rivers recalled. “And everybody started laughing. John Lewis piped in and says, ‘Well, we’re not trying to get all of them. We’re just trying to get one at a time, and eventually it will be all of them.’ I thought that was just one powerful statement.”


Clippers seek to get groove back

The Clippers had been hitting their stride before the coronavirus outbreak shut down the NBA on March 11, winning seven of their last eight games.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were fully healthy and the Clippers were starting to integrate forward Marcus Morris (acquired from the Knicks) and guard Reggie Jackson (picked up after a buyout from the Pistons).

They had the second-best record (44-20) in the Western Conference behind the Lakers (49-14).

Clippers coach Doc Rivers declined Friday to say if Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris and Landry Shamet had reported yet to the NBA restart in Orlando.

George said it was “a little frustrating” to have the season placed on pause, but he does see some benefits for the Clippers as they prepare for the NBA restart to the season at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

“We played ourselves into that chemistry, into that zone we were in. We were getting guys healthy,” George said Saturday morning on a video conference call with reporters. “That was really the team coming together. We added Reggie, we added Marcus and we were starting to mold and shape and learn each other. It was tough to take this little break.

“But I think ultimately it’s going to pay off. Again, we had so many guys dealing with little nicks and bruises. We were one of the teams that could have benefitted off of the healing process and coming together healthy. So this break did wonders for this group, and we’re going to pick up where we left off at.”


Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell posted on his Instagram account that his reason for leaving the bubble Friday was because his grandmother had passed away.

“Don’t worry Ma Ma your grandson on the way,” Harrell wrote. He continued, “I’m not built for this I can’t stop crying.”

When Harrell returns, as is expected by the team, the NBA’s health and safety protocols requires the center — who averages 18.4 points off the bench — to quarantine between four and 10 days when he returns to the bubble.

“This is obviously a matter at home that he did need to go to,” Rivers said. “So, we’re just going to wait for him. Like, when he needs to get back, he’ll be back.”