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NBA / Feb 9, 2009 / 1:56 pm

The Secret To Doc Rivers’ Success

Doc RiversDoc Rivers (photo. Boston.com)

Before the Knicks/Celtics game on Friday, we were talking in the office about two-time Coach of the Year Doc Rivers and the job he’s been able to do on the bench. For years, we’ve been discussing Doc’s knack for drawing up plays off the cuff – that oftentimes get the Celtics the W – and his ability to manage superstars.

From Ray Allen‘s game-winning three against the Sixers on February 3, to Ray’s attempt to win in it in overtime against the Lakers on Thursday, Doc seems to know a thing or two about how to draw them up. So with only two questions to ask him after they beat the Knicks, you knew what was on my mind. Listen to what Doc had to say…

Dime: Why are you so good at coming up with quick hitter plays at the end of games and during timeouts?
Doc Rivers: Well probably because I have three really good players. You know, that really helps. You just watch the game and try and get tendencies and then play from there. We have veterans, and that helps as well. Because when you have veterans who can think, you can draw up something that they’ve never seen before and you have a chance of running it.

Dime: Throughout your career, you’ve been great at managing superstars. Why?
Doc: Honestly, I don’t know. You’ve gotta be honest with them, and they’ve been honest with me, and that forces a relationship. I think that if your stars have character, you have a chance of coaching them.

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  • anthony

    man, his key to success is having KG, Ray, & Pierce on his team. that’s all it is. he’s nothin special.

  • Sam I Am

    screw you anthony

  • Desrat

    Go Doc. gotta love this guy.

  • YOUNGFED…”Lifestyles of the balleRific”

    Couldn’t have said it better Anthony.

  • fallinup

    You can’t harp on Doc’s coaching skills. He won coach of the year his first year as coach with a shitty Orlando Magic squad.

  • Big Sia

    Stole his secret from Philip Jackson

  • Heckler…formerly ‘yallallreadyknow’

    doc also lost a boston record 19 consecutive games in 2006-2007.

    NINETEEN losses in a row!!

    is he as bad as 19 straight losses?…maybe. maybe not.
    is he as good as 2-time COY?….maybe. maybe not.

  • fallinup

    I’d blame Danny Ainge for that 19 game losing streak before I blame Doc LOL. They were tanking that season. Hence, the great draft pick…hence Ray Allen.

  • Prof. TX

    Is this like the secret to Phil Jackson’s success? Surround yourself with all-stars, and get the credit for what your assistant does. PJ took the triangle from Winter and had some of the best rosters in recent history. The Celtics famous D is from Thibodeau and three all-stars knowing how to play.

    It doesn’t make them bad coaches, just a little overhyped. At least Rivers looks like he’s coaching during the game, instead of just watching.

  • Drink the Haterade (KB24 Chip 09)

    Actually Phil’s ability to coach superstars comes from his ability to manage ego’s. He did it with MJ, Shaq and Kobe. Yes, Tex is the one who made the triangle, but it’s like any other manager, your only as good as the people under you.

  • http://www.hotmail.com Mamba

    Ill say this about Doc and Phil since he was pulled into this debate,

    They are both excellent managers of egos and emotions, there is definatley something to be said for that – Plus they both are able to focus their guys on a common goal, no matter how selfish each player might be,

    Jordan has said countless times that Phil and Dean Smith are the only two coaches he has really respected and loved because they challenged him and didnt just cater to whatever he felt like,

    Respect has to be earned on both sides, Doc clearly is able to challenge his guys and in turn they respect him back – they will play hard for him and buy into a common goal – that is the difference – 95% of pro coaches fail I would say because they fall into a trap of wanting to buddy up with their players – there has to be that line of seperation,

    Cudos to Doc even though I despise the Celts, I respect them and what he has done there – understanding the psychology of the game is just as imporant as the X’s and O’s

  • Ian

    ill go with kinda the opposite than mamba
    doc like phil is nothing speacial
    3 hofers in the east i can coach them.

    phil taking anothers coach project (doug collins) and coachin jordan/pip and shaq/kobe to rings nothing speacial.

    they are ok coaches

  • Sanpitch

    Before everyone jumps on Doc’s nutsack, let’s check out the situation.

    I think 90% of us could coach that Celtics team to the Playoffs. I don’t think most of us could have coached them to the title last year, but I think a few in here know enough about basketball to do it. I like Doc and all but how hard is it to draw up a play to have Ray Allen come off a screen and to clear out one side of the court to let Pierce go iso on his player.

    Ray needs to come off a screen to be an effective shooter, so run plays for him coming off a “Big Baby” screen (minus the last play of the Celtics OT loss to the Lakers) and hell you look like Vince Lombardi of the NBA. Have Paul Pierce iso his man and have every one else on the other side of the court. Have Garnett pop out for a 15 footer at one of the elbows and you just received a COY award.

    Great Coach??? I don’t know if he’s “great” but I think he’s a “good” coach. He does handle the egos on that team pretty good. But hell, everyone would be pretty close to their best behavior when you have all those banners and old-timers at your games. If Bill Russell came to one of my games, I ain’t complaining about sh** and everything is “Yes, sir”.

  • Celts Fan

    Aint nobody won a ring without talent on their team. End of story

  • LakeShow84

    I find it ironic (and extremely hypocritical + 2 faced) last year in the Finals he said Phil Jackson was whining about the calls.. and this is when Leon Powe nearly outshot our whole team from the FT line..

    And then this pass game he himself, the great Doc, whines about the refs after they lost at home.. what a difference winning makes huh??

  • Ric Hardwood

    I agree with Celts Fan. It shouldn’t be a knock on a coach if they coach HOF talent. It’s not just the talent but how to manage them. Get them to think Championship and not MVP Awards…

  • heartbreaker85

    WTF dime?

    the secret to doc rivers’ success is tom thibideau (or however the hell you spell his name). rivers’ also has the privilege of coaching KG and surrounding him with paul pierce and ray allen.

    if anything, rivers should be credited for knowing what to do with young talent (tmac, miller in orlando, now rondo in boston).

  • doc (i like kobe AND bron)

    Hell of a coach.

  • Iceman

    Look back at all the great coaches and teams they have coached. You need better than average talent to win games and titles. In most cases get the the right talent and it seems like anyone could coach them. By extension get some of those same coaches go and coach any of Raptors/Clippers/Warriors/Kings/Bobcats/Thunder/Timberwolves and lets see what the results would be.

    That play is drawn up by every team in the NBA , but only a few pull it off successfully. Having enough weapons to make the defense not help on the best players counts for something.