Doc Rivers willingly left the Boston Celtics, but he wants you to know it wasn't easy.
Back in town as a co-chair of the Action for Boston Community Development’s Hoop Dreams charity event, Rivers lamented leaving the Celtics and the city of Boston, according to Justin Barrasso of WEEI:
It’s tough to leave the Celtics because it’s the Celtics. It was the best nine years of basketball that I’ve ever been a part of, but I also fell in love with the city. And, for me, the hardest part is leaving the city. I’ve met friends that have changed my life here, and they’ll always be my friends.
Rivers coached Beantown to one NBA title during his nine-year tenure. Sensing the honeymoon was over as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce pushed the boundaries of age, he left under rather bizarre circumstances. When all was said, done, wrapped and sealed, he wound up with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Having coached Pierce for nearly a decade and Garnett for six years, there's no way his departure was easy. Not even close.
In fact, he seems to be taking his separation from Garnett particularly hard:
He did a lot of good things that people don’t know. When rookies came in, he would bring them up to my office. He’d sit them down, and then he would bring his tailor in and say, ‘If you want to be a pro, you’ve got to dress like a pro.’ And he would buy each rookie two suits, and he did it every year. To me, that says a lot about Kevin Garnett as a teammate.
He’s full of life and a great guy in the locker room. He’s so unselfish, I think he would have scored another 10,000 points if he wanted. He’s the only player I’ve ever yelled at for not shooting. He always felt like if he took three or four shots in a row, that was too many. He needed to share the ball.
When you think of Garnett, your mind isn't drawn to a cuddly teddy bear. That's what Rivers is essentially making him out to be here—a kind-hearted novelty, programmed to speak about nothing other than hugs, unicorns and bubble gum.
Most of us, meanwhile, know Garnett as a trash-talking, fuse-burning nemesis of Carmelo Anthony who will stop it at nothing to win. But apparently there's a softer side of KG.
And I believe it...sorta.
He's always been the guy you want on your team, but never want to play against. Perception of him varies by city. In Boston, Brooklyn and perhaps Minnesota, you won't find much hate. In the Rivers' household, there's likely a shrine dedicated to him in the back of Doc's closet.
Everywhere else? Not so much.
“The word that starts with ‘f’?" Rivers explained. "He thought it was a noun, verb and an adjective."
Now that sounds more like the Garnett we know and loved to not love—the same one who seemed to care less about hugs and more about creative, f-bombing prose.