Rivers won't coach this season

Tired of rumors swirling over his impending dismissal, Doc Rivers gave the Magic an ultimatum.

Updated: November 19, 2003, 12:00 PM ET
By David Aldridge | Special to ESPN.com

Fired Orlando Magic coach Doc Rivers asked team management Monday to either fire him or leave him alone.

"If you're going to judge me on 10 games after all that I have done for four years, getting the team to the playoffs and overachieving, [bleep] or get off the pot," Rivers told ESPN on Tuesday morning.

Rivers said he likely won't coach this season, though he had received a call on Tuesday from a team that was interested in talking to him about its position. It is expected that Rivers, who was replaced by assistant coach Johnny Davis, will spend the year doing television work, most likely for ABC on its Sunday afternoon telecasts. Rivers wants to see his son play high school basketball this season and does not want to work a full schedule.

He said that he wasn't angry about being fired, but he pointed out that "every year, we had seven new players." During his tenure as coach, Orlando used several different players at point guard, from Darrell Armstrong to Chucky Atkins to Troy Hudson to this year's starter, free agent Tyronn Lue. Rivers also said that he had yet to have his full team available this season. Guard Gordan Giricek made his season debut against the Jazz in Utah on Monday, and forward Pat Garrity is expected to miss the rest of the season after a knee injury was worse than team officials first believed.

Magic chief operating officer John Weisbrod said that Rivers was fired in part because of a "losing culture" that had pervaded the Magic since Orlando blew a 3-1 lead in its first-round playoff series against Detroit last spring. After losing the last three games of that series, the Magic went 1-7 in the preseason and lost three straight close games to start their road trip and continue their 10-game slide.

"I love Doc, and it's hard when you put your hand in another guy's hand and go to battle with him," Weisbrod said. "But we weren't getting the most out of our players. ... We had to go to a culture that's more positive than it's been here. ... Our team dynamics were probably less than great. Our chemistry was less than great. Our team was less than great."

But Weisbrod said the team did not blame general manager John Gabriel for the team's misfortunes.

I love Doc ... but we weren't getting the most out of our players. ... Our team dynamics were probably less than great. Our chemistry was less than great. Our team was less than great."
John Weisbrod, Magic chief operating officer
"We feel confident with the job John Gabriel has done," Weisbrod said. "We asked him to roll the dice on Grant Hill and he did."

Weisbrod acknowledged that the long-rumored rift between Rivers and Gabriel had some basis in fact, and it was a factor in the decision to let Rivers go. But he seemed to hold Rivers more responsible for some of Orlando's mistakes in the draft and with trades than Gabriel.

"In the last few years we obviously didn't come up with a clear and coherent plan for them," Weisbrod said. "They got along fine as people. But we really have to be more effective building the team through the draft and developing players. ... (Gabriel) is responsible if he allows the coach to be too influential in those things. Coaches have to coach and general managers have to manage. Giving Doc the guys he wanted on the team, maybe Gabe was a little too accommodating in that."

Weisbrod said that Tracy McGrady was not consulted or asked his opinion before the organization made its decision to fire Rivers.

David Aldridge, who covers the NBA for ESPN, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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