There are NBA coaches and then there are NBA coaches who make a difference in the players they coach.
Doc Rivers is one of those.
Players want to play for him, the players currently playing for him heap praise onto him and reporters often preach his virtues on Twitter. It is universally agreed upon: Rivers is one of the good guys.
He's also an extremely good coach. Look at this year's Celtics team. We've counted them out time and time again, they've dealt with injury after injury after injury and somehow they're where they are supposed to be with a week left in the regular season.
Rivers rediscovered magic in Kevin Garnett, moving the 17-year veteran to the center spot. He unearthed the gem the Celtics' front office thought they had found in Avery Bradley by placing the second-year guard in the backcourt alongside Rajon Rondo. He has coached and coaxed all of his players into believing in something bigger than themselves.
Players respect Rivers because they can see his love and respect for the game.
Check out this video from a recent postgame scrum, where Rivers stopped talking about his own team to give recognition to Pat Summitt, one of the great basketball minds of our time. It's touching, honest, pure and raw.
When Rivers was recently asked about coaching a point guard like Rajon Rondo, he responded by saying that while Rondo is different, so are Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and all of the players he's coached over the years. He looks at his players as individuals who play basketball, rather than basketball players, and this pays off.
“Everybody’s different. We’re all snowflakes, I guess. We really are: We’re all just different people,” Rivers said. “I think that’s as much of coaching as the X-and-O part. You try to figure it out, and there are days that it works and days that it doesn’t work. It’s just part of being a human being.” is it so easy to believe in what Rivers is selling? Because it has always been --and will always be-- about the game."
Rivers understands people.
Why is it so easy to believe in what he's selling? Because it has always been—and will always be—about the game.