Rivers Takes over as Clippers' Coach

By Plaschke, Bill | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), June 25, 2013 | Go to article overview

Rivers Takes over as Clippers' Coach


Plaschke, Bill, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


LOS ANGELES - Chris Paul is one player. Doc Rivers is a culture. Blake Griffin elicits wide-eyed awe. Doc Rivers elicits real expectation. Clipper Nation is built on the unrelenting hope of fans in the shadows. Doc Rivers doesnt settle for hope, and that cloud cover is about to clear. That Rivers is Donald Sterlings new head coach doesnt mean you have to start cheering or fearing the Los Angeles Clippers, but it does mean you have to start paying attention. For an organization that has held the NBAs gaze only for as long as it takes for somebody to complete a dunk, this prolonged stare is far more important. The Lakers can curse they have to share a hallway with a true Boston Celtics hero, but they still have to start paying attention. The other team has the coach with the NBA championship ring. The other team has the young stars who will blossom from that credibility. The other team could now be the Lakers-meet-Phil-Jackson team of 14 years ago, and if that doesnt scare these Lakers, nothing will. The teams in the NBAs Western Conference can tell themselves that Chris Paul cannot get to the Finals by himself, but they also still have to start paying attention. Although the former Celtics coachs arrival ensures Paul will re-sign with the Clippers, Rivers presence is about making everyone else better. His toughness will rub off on Blake Griffin, his smarts will be pounded at DeAndre Jordan, he will be the coach Chauncey Billups tried to be, only with the authority and power to make it happen. Even the longtime Los Angeles basketball fans, who mostly love the Lakers and discount the Clippers, are going to have to start paying attention. Rivers is different from other Clippers headlines. Rivers, unlike any other Clippers savior before him, has the juice to not only steal the attention, but steal victories, and steal playoff series, and turn Lob City into Legit City. Rivers may have won only one NBA title as a coach, but hes one of only four active coaches to have won titles, period. He may have won his only championship with three future NBA Hall of Famers, but he did so in a manner that has worked for others in winning virtually every recent NBA title, a simple system of melding egos and demanding grit. It is the classy Rivers who fashioned crude hothead Kevin Garnett into such a leader, the two opposites becoming best of friends. It is the demanding Rivers who forced legendary ball hog Ray Allen to swallow so much pride, Allen becoming the ultimate whenever-you-need-me shooter. This was evident in Allens perfect moment that saved the Miami Heat in this years NBA Finals. You think the Clippers could benefit from someone with the juice to turn down their star power and make them better teammates? …

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