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Assistant coach Davis takes over

11/18/2003 - Orlando Magic

SALT LAKE CITY -- Doc Rivers was fired as coach of the
Orlando Magic late Monday night after the team got off to the worst
start in its 15-year history.

Rivers told The Associated Press early Tuesday that Magic
general manager John Gabriel informed him of the decision in a
meeting at the team hotel after Orlando lost to Utah 90-88 on
Monday night.

The Magic, an NBA-worst 1-10 this season, have lost 10
consecutive games.

"It is part of sports," Rivers said. "I thought I had a good
run here. Things just didn't work out in the end. Maybe the players
need to hear another voice."

The Magic reached the playoffs in the last three of Rivers' four
seasons in Orlando, but each ended in a first-round exit. Combined
with this season's dismal start, Rivers knew a change was likely.

"I have no ax to grind," Rivers said. "I thought the
management and team were both great. I couldn't ask for anything
more."

In addition to Rivers' dismissal, the team also announced early
Tuesday that assistant coach Johnny Davis will take over for
Rivers, a move first reported by the Orlando Sentinel on its Web
site. Assistant coach Dave Wohl was also let go.

"We work in a bottom-line business," Magic chief operating
officer John Weisbrod said in a statement. "After a 1-10 start, it
is our responsibility to do everything possible to create the best
opportunity for success."

Davis, in his fifth season with the Magic, was previously an
assistant with New Jersey from 1997-99. He's also been an assistant
with Atlanta, the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland.

Davis went 22-60 and missed the playoffs as the head coach of
the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996-97 season.

"Johnny is an experienced leader," Weisbrod said. "He is a
solid teacher and prides himself on developing talent. We want to
give him the opportunity to provide the new voice and direction
that our team needs."

Davis, 48, played 10 years in the NBA, averaging 13.9 points and
4.5 assists per game with Portland, Indiana, Atlanta and Cleveland.
Rivers had been the longest-tenured coach working in the Eastern
Conference, entering his fifth season with the Magic. At 42, Rivers
plans to coach again.

"I'll go home, walk in the house and reintroduce myself to my
family," Rivers said. "I'll see what I want to do. There'll be
some options."

Rivers' stay in Orlando began with promise. He was named NBA
Coach of the Year in his rookie campaign of 1999-2000, becoming the
first coach in league history to win the award without leading his
team to the playoffs.

Rivers, who played 13 seasons for the Hawks, Clippers, Knicks
and Spurs before retiring in 1996 to become a television analyst
for Turner Sports, was 171-168 in his four-plus seasons with
Orlando and ranks second on the franchise's career victories list.

"I love coaching. I enjoy coaching," Rivers said. "I consider
it in my blood, but I think it might be time for a break."

Despite having the reigning NBA scoring champion in Tracy
McGrady, the Magic, the NBA's third-youngest team, have struggled
this season. Orlando's offense entered play Monday as the
22nd-lowest scoring and 25th-worst shooting unit in the league, and
averaged only 88.3 points per game.