His willingness to be the face and voice of the team in this difficult circumstance is noteworthy:
Burden on players is huge, but here, for the 3rd time in 3 days, Doc is taking the hit and answering tough questions. Can't ignore that— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 28, 2014
And there are few coaches and leaders in the NBA who could handle the situation with as much class and professionalism as Rivers:
There is no better man than Doc Rivers to be in this position right now. He’s complete class and has such a thoughtful voice.— Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) April 28, 2014
Among other things, Rivers addressed Sterling's history with racial issues. According to CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet, it's littered with "...accusations of racism in connection with the NBA team and his real estate properties, according to court documents."
Doc Rivers: Clearly there are things that have happened. But, I don’t know what the league could have done in the past. Now, there’s proof.— Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) April 28, 2014
It's proof, assuming the comments were indeed made by Sterling. At this stage, everything is still "alleged," but Rivers is confident the voice on the tape obtained by TMZ is Sterling's:
Doc: "Yeah I believe he (Sterling) said those things."— janis carr (@janiscarr) April 28, 2014
Understandably, Clippers players are having a hard time dealing with and responding to the reality of this:
Doc: "The last 48 hours have been really hard for our players, and everybody."— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) April 28, 2014
Rivers even said that his Clippers were affected during Sunday's Game 4 clash with the Golden State Warriors:
Doc: "Yeah it (situation) had an impact (on Sunday's game). No doubt."— janis carr (@janiscarr) April 28, 2014
Whether they're able to bounce back from Sunday's loss remains to be seen. Obviously, they'll still be trying to handle this new weight that's been thrust onto them:
Doc uncertain what kind of mindset his players will have for Game 5 and he won't blame them one way or the other. "This is a tough one."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 28, 2014
The bigger picture has nothing to do with wins and losses, but Rivers believes a deep run in the playoffs by his team will foster discussion:
Doc Rivers: “My belief is the longer we win the more we keep talking about this. And I think that’s all good."— Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) April 28, 2014
As the Clippers continue to fight for each other on the floor, Rivers hopes the team's fans will rally behind them:
Doc: "From our fans standpt ... we need them, I can tell you that."— janis carr (@janiscarr) April 28, 2014
Doc: "whatever the fans do, they do it as one. Be one."— janis carr (@janiscarr) April 28, 2014
Doc added: "We want them to cheer for their players and their team because they will continue to be their players and their team."— janis carr (@janiscarr) April 28, 2014
One of their most visible supporters is already in their corner:
He may own the team but they belong to us. Go Clippers!— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) April 27, 2014
Rivers and his players will continue to do their job for fans like Billy Crystal and everyone else who's supported them this year.
In the meantime, commissioner Adam Silver has the responsibility of responding to Sterling's comments from the league's standpoint. Rivers is confident Silver will do the right thing:
Doc: "I really have a lot of faith in Adam (Silver) and the league."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 28, 2014
Doc: "This is a very important decision. I think it's a very strong message and I believe it will be."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 28, 2014
Other decisions will have to be made beyond Silver's. Some have wondered whether or not Rivers will choose to return to the Clippers next season. He addressed the speculation:
Doc on his future with the Clippers: "I don't want to answer that question. I don't know. This just happened."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 28, 2014
The players will be affected as well. Rivers optimistically believes that this adversity will serve as a learning experience and benefit them in the long run:
Doc Rivers: “They will grow from this. We live in a make-believe life in sports. …Right now this is real life, and we have to deal with it."— Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) April 28, 2014
The overall discourse should be beneficial as well:
In closing, Doc said, "The conversations we are having need to be had."— janis carr (@janiscarr) April 28, 2014
We've come a long way as a country over the last few decades, but this incident with Sterling is an ugly reminder that there is still racism out there.
The NBA and those affiliated with the Clippers now have an opportunity to combat it on a massive stage. Rivers made it clear Monday that he's not backing down from this fight.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.