September 13, 2007
Rivers Not Starstruck
If you're a storied coach with success leading stars, don't be surprised if Celtics coach Doc Rivers gets in touch with you.
Rivers will have the luxury of coaching veteran All-Stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen this upcoming season.
During a conference call yesterday promoting NBA Europe Live 2007, the league's overseas tour, the Celtics' third-year coach acknowledged he has been reaching out to several coaches for their takes on the best way to coach a group of stars.
"I talk to a lot of coaches," Rivers said. "Not just in basketball, but all the sports. You're always seeking and getting great advice. There are so many great networks to reach out, tap, and find resources, so I do that. And I do that a lot.
"When you have an opportunity like this, you don't want to leave any stone unturned. You've got to look everywhere."
Rivers has recently spoken with Chuck Daly, Dean Smith, and current successful college coaches Tom Crean, Billy Donovan, and Roy Williams.
"When you stop learning, it's time to roll over," Rivers said.
Two coaches who have had success leading multiple stars, former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich and current Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, recently gave their opinions on what Rivers is facing.
"A lot of it has to do with who the people are," Tomjanovich said. "If you have guys that want to win, there is no problem with it. I had guys with a lot of character."
Tomjanovich led the Rockets to two titles, coaching the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, and Scottie Pippen from 1991-2005. Tomjanovich also coached the 2000 United States Olympic team, which Garnett was a part of, to the gold medal.
D'Antoni currently coaches a superstar trio of Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion. D'Antoni is also an assistant for the US's star-studded team featuring Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony.
"The players are going to have to figure out how they are going to interact with the other players, and they will," D'Antoni said. "They'll figure it out [in Boston]. They're great players at a good time in their career. Doc will tell them what he needs and they'll do it. The only time you can't figure it out is when they don't want to do it."
With stars comes pressure to win. And Rivers said he would rather have that pressure than the alternative.
"The pressure, speaking honestly, if we didn't have this would have been greater because then we would have strived to just find out a way to win games to just maybe squeak in the playoffs," said Rivers.
"This type of pressure is great. Every coach wants this pressure.
"There are a lot of great coaches in our league who have never had an opportunity to coach players like this. Their record doesn't show the type of coach they are. I've waited around. I've had a couple decent teams. This gives you a chance to win. That's all you want, a shot at it."
Said Tomjanovich: "You want [talent]. That's not a bad problem. Doc's such a good guy, he'll find a way to make it work. But then again, I think KG will make it work. I had him in the Olympics and he was tremendous getting the guys together."
On the Celtics' point guard situation, Rivers said: "I really am proud and loved to watch what Rajon [Rondo] has done over the summer. His progression is obviously a key to our success, and I think he will be up for the task. I really do. I really think he's put in a lot of time and he'll be ready.
"But the backup position is something that we're just going to figure out. I do run an offense that's not a point guard-oriented offense where you need a point guard to call out plays. It's more of a movement offense, so you can get away with not having a pure point guard on the floor."
Rivers said he liked the Celtics' mix of veterans and young players, but "we're always looking to improve our roster.
"Our guys will probably play a lot of minutes together in preseason. Probably more than usual I will have our starters out there on the floor."
On spending some training camp time in Rome and London, Rivers said: "I couldn't have picked a better year for us to go over to Europe and spend time together and see some of the sights together as a group and try to take advantage of that."
Since the Garnett trade, the Celtics have gone from the No. 7 selling team, in terms of merchandise, at the end of last season to No. 1, according to the NBA. Garnett's jersey has been the top seller since the trade and Allen jerseys are selling well, too.