- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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With all the buzz surrounding Doc Rivers and his future with the Celtics, we went back in the archives and dug out the full transcript from his interview on May 16, 2011 on Boston sports radio WEEI. It was Rivers' first public comments after Danny Ainge announced that the coach had agreed to a five-year, $35 million extension to stay in Boston three days earlier. Given his current situation and all the buzz that Rivers could walk away, some of his answers here are interesting to re-read:
Q: Did you fool everyone by coming back?
Rivers: "Well, last year they were probably more right. Last year I was absolutely leaning [towards walking away]. This year I really never was. After last year's summer and going through the decision that we went through, I was pretty sure I was coming back and I was pretty sure I wanted to come back here. This is a special place and I've said that before. You can't get a lot of these jobs where you coach teams like the Celtics, or the Red Sox, or the Yankees, and I have one of them. I work with a great [general manager] in Danny Ainge and I have good ownership, so why change?"
Q: Whose idea was it for a long-term deal?
Rivers: "Well, Danny brought it up to me. When he first brought it up I was surprised by it. But this was a while ago that he brought it up. I think, actually, he brought up even more years to start. I never thought of it in those terms because we kept doing these one-year or two-year deals, and I never thought of it. And Danny walked in my office and said, 'Listen, I want you to be here with me for a long time, and I want to make this something where we're together for a long time,' and so he brought up the number of years and you've got to process that when you commit to something for that long, and we did, and we thought it was the right thing to do."
Where did talk of you going elsewhere come from?
Rivers: "Well, I don't know where the going somewhere else came from. That was all over, especially of late. And that was one of the reasons I wanted to do this. I hear the rumors just like you guys with all these different teams. My thing is, I have a special team and I have a special group of players, and why change? I look at the Utah situation and Jerry Sloan and I look at the situation in San Antonio, and Danny and I were talking, those are the two most stable franchises, because they've had the same coach and the same GM and the same ownership, and they've been able to draft well, scout well, pick the right players for the system, because they've known the system. And when we talked about it, that's what we want to do."
Q: Aren't you going to rebuild at some point? Are you looking forward to it?
Rivers: "Well I don't think anyone's looking forward to that, but I'm willing to do that. I've had a group that has been very loyal to me, and I think it would have been very easy for me to just run, and go somewhere else and chase something else. Who says that we still can't do that, with free agency and adding the right pieces while our Big Three are getting older? We have to add the right supporting cast to them, and in that transition, hopefully we can still chase what we want. But it would have been easier to do it the other way. I just don't think it's the right thing to do. Coaches talk about loyalty and team all the time and I just thought it was time to show it, and that's what I did."
Could you imagine coaching the Lakers?
Rivers: "Well, I don't know about that. Once you take a year off, you pretty much can coach anywhere. But that would have been strange."
Q: Ethically, could you have done it, given your relationship with the Celtics?
Rivers: "I did have a problem with that if I had, let's say, did it this year. I had a philosophical, a big problem with that. If I had said, 'You know what? I'm going to let my contract expire at the end of this year and then go take -- actually any other team, but especially them or a couple other teams,' I just, I couldn't do it. I told my agent that. That's something I can't do. I don't function that way and I just thought it'd be a very difficult thing for me to do."
7dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann