The National Basketball Association fans can’t help but have an opinion about Doc Rivers. Some Celtics fans think he is one of the best coaches in the game and praise the work he did to help Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen get along in their first year with the team.
Many people quickly point out his playoff losses since leaving Boston. Older fans remembered Rivers as a tough, intelligent point guard who knew how to set up an attack. No matter what the majority view is, Doc Rivers has had an exciting basketball career, making his bio a must-read.
Doc Rivers – Growing Up
When Glenn Anton Rivers was born on October 13, 1961, in Chicago, Illinois, his life started. Becky and Grady Rivers raised him. The head coach of the 76ers has talked about how his parents shaped him. He has mainly spoken about his father during unrest in the United States.
For more than 30 years, Grady Rivers worked as a police officer. He taught his son the worth of following rules and doing things the right way. His father taught Doc Rivers how to play basketball, but Doc also had other athletes in his family, like Uncle Jim Brewer and Cousin Byron Irvin, who played in the NBA. A well-known Major League Baseball star was his other cousin, Ken Singleton.
Doc Rivers – Proviso East High School
Dr. Rivers used to play hoops at Proviso East High School and still checks in on the team to see how they’re doing. In the late 1970s, Rivers helped make the school famous as a real basketball factory, even though he didn’t always want the praise. Many NBA players like Michael Finley, Steven Hunter, and Shannon Brown have come from Proviso East over the years.
Doc Rivers – College
Doc Rivers was supposed to stay in the Midwest to play college hoops. Due to its closeness to his hometown, DePaul was a strong contender. Notre Dame, with its long basketball past, was also an option. Ultimately, Rivers chose to play for Marquette University in Wisconsin, which is close by. He did a great job with the Golden Eagles. As a student, he set records and led the team to two NCAA tournaments.
Playing Days - Atlanta Hawks
Despite not receiving the plaudits of some other Eastern Conference teams in the 1980s, the Atlanta Hawks enjoyed a very respectable run under head coach Mike Fratello. Rivers, Dominique Wilkins, and Randy Wittman helped the franchise establish an exciting young core in the early half of the decade.
Although Rivers only made one All-Star team, it isn’t easy to see the Hawks making the playoffs in six of his first eight seasons with the franchise. He was consistently among the league leaders in steals per game and had some impressive assist seasons.
Doc Rivers - Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks
Despite their best efforts, the Hawks could not overcome the likes of the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons. As a result, Atlanta began to shift some parts around to get younger, trading Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Rivers’ seasoned presence helped smooth a volatile 1991-1992 season in which the team had three different head coaches. It was their first playoff appearance since moving from Buffalo in 1978.
Despite his effect with the Clippers, the franchise traded him to the New York Knicks, a team with serious championship hopes. The Knicks boasted one of the most intimidating frontlines in the NBA in 1992-1993 and were seeking help with guarding. Rivers ended up starting 45 games for them that season, forming a solid tandem with Greg Anthony at point guard. However, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were too powerful, defeating the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Unfortunately, that would be the last significant stretch of his career. He tore his ACL in December 1993 and only appeared in 19 games for the Knicks that season.
Doc Rivers - San Antonio Spurs
Doc Rivers played three games for New York in 1994-1995 before being dismissed and picked up by the San Antonio Spurs. He spent the final two years of his career with San Antonio, where he stayed relatively healthy, although he played a limited role.
Doc Rivers - First-Time Head Coach of the Orlando Magic
Doc Rivers became an NBA analyst on TNT after retiring. Because he was so well-liked in league circles, he would soon return in some manner. He had several opportunities to work in front offices but chose to work on the bench. Despite not having experience as an NBA coach, Rivers was hired by the Orlando Magic in June 1999.
Rivers had to deal with several challenging situations, such as not having Grant Hill available for most of his time in Orlando. However, he persuaded an undermanned club headlined by rising star Tracy McGrady into the postseason in three of his four full seasons.
Doc Rivers - Boston Celtics
Even though Rivers was fired following a 1-10 start in Orlando during the 2003-2004 season, his work was still regarded throughout the NBA. That is why the Boston Celtics hired him as their head coach the following season.
The former point guard took over a squad in the league’s center. Paul Pierce was a legitimate All-Star, but many unknowns surrounded him, notably Antoine Walker’s future. Boston made the playoffs in Rivers’ debut season but was one of the NBA’s worst teams the following two seasons. Rivers was on the verge of being written off as a promising but underwhelming young coach.
Everything changed in June 2007. General manager Danny Ainge hit a home run by selling youthful assets and draft picks for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Instead of mentoring and pushing young players, Rivers would become a tactician who would strive to help seasoned veterans win their first championship.
Boston had a fantastic season. They were tested early in the postseason but rose to the occasion. In the 2008 NBA Finals, the Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics came close to winning another championship in 2010 but were defeated in a seven-game series by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Doc Rivers - Los Angeles Clippers
The Celtics would be a perennial playoff club for several more years as their core aged, but the time arrived for Rivers to take on a new task. He would be promoted to president of basketball operations and head coach with the Los Angeles Clippers. Normally, basketball operations are a significant additional burden for a coach, but Rivers handled both duties as well as anyone in recent memory.
Of all people, Doc Rivers understood the significance of having a good point guard, and he had one of the finest to accomplish it with the Clippers in Chris Paul. The club played an entertaining brand of basketball, with Paul passing the ball to athletic big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Sharpshooter J.J. Redick was also on the court to keep defenders honest.
Despite the skill and the expectations, Los Angeles never quite reached the top with Rivers. Their most memorable defeat came in the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals when they trailed the Houston Rockets 3-1.
The Clippers would stick by rivers as they transitioned away from the Chris Paul era into a new era of Clippers basketball with two of the league’s most skilled wing players. With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the roster for 2019-2020, the squad was anticipated to compete for a title.
Los Angeles had more problems than expected against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2020 playoffs despite dispatching the Dallas Mavericks. The squad had a 3-1 series lead before losing in seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals. This defeat, along with the one suffered five years before, is one that many supporters associate with Rivers’ legacy.
Doc Rivers - Philadelphia 76ers
The following season, Doc Rivers would be faced with taking over another championship-bound squad in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia 76ers were considered one of the Eastern Conference favorites entering the 2020-2021 season, and fans hoped that Rivers could take the team further than Brett Brown could.
Many were surprised when the 76ers were eliminated in the second round that year by an upstart Atlanta Hawks club. The series culminated with point guard Ben Simmons passing up an easy layup in the fourth quarter of Game 7, sparking a dramatic storyline regarding his future with the franchise that continued into the 2021-2022 season.
Throughout this, superstar center Joel Embiid remained one of the league’s finest players. His performance kept the team afloat while the front staff debated handling the Simmons situation. They would transfer him to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for James Harden.
This time, Philadelphia was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat in six games. Due to an orbital fracture in his face, Embiid had to miss the first two games of that series. Things would have turned out differently if the center had been open throughout the full series.
Doc Rivers: NBA Prospect
Doc Rivers will be starting his third season with the 76ers, who will be chasing another championship. What he performs with his fourth head coaching opportunity will significantly impact how he is remembered.
He is still only 60, so he could coach for the next 10-15 years. He may also choose to retire in a few years and spend more time with his wife Kristen Rivers, whom Doc Rivers married in 1986.
Conclusion: Doc Rivers - A Continuing Legacy
Doc Rivers’ journey from a standout player to a respected coach has left an indelible mark on the NBA. From his playing days with the Atlanta Hawks to coaching the Boston Celtics to an NBA championship, and now guiding the Philadelphia 76ers, his career reflects resilience and adaptability.
As Doc Rivers enters his third season with the 76ers, the anticipation for further success is high. Whether he coaches for another decade or chooses to retire, his impact on the league and the players he’s mentored is undeniable. The legacy of Doc Rivers, a combination of player finesse and coaching prowess, continues to shape the narrative of basketball’s evolution.
Frequently Asked Questions
Doc Rivers was born on October 13, 1961, in Chicago, Illinois.
Doc Rivers' parents were Becky and Grady Rivers.
Grady Rivers, a police officer for over 30 years, instilled the value of following rules and doing things the right way in Doc's life.
Doc Rivers played basketball at Proviso East High School.
Doc Rivers played college basketball for Marquette University in Wisconsin.
Doc Rivers played for the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, and San Antonio Spurs.
Doc Rivers became an NBA head coach for the first time with the Orlando Magic in June 1999.
Doc Rivers led the Boston Celtics to an NBA championship in the 2007-2008 season.
Doc Rivers took on the role of president of basketball operations and head coach with the Los Angeles Clippers.
In recent years, Doc Rivers has coached the Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers.