Skeptics have said Lakers coach Phil Jackson's nine NBA titles had more to do with coaching the superstar likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers than being a great coach. But on the flip side, Jackson also has had to manage superstar egos, too.
Rivers, coaching three superstars in Boston, believes Jackson doesn't get enough credit for that part of his job.
"He's been phenomenal," Rivers said. "He's one of the better coaches to have ever walked the Earth. He gets a lot of heat because he's coached with talent. But that's not easy to do. You have to keep all those personalities together and go on. It's my first time having talent and it's not easy. You have to manage a lot of personalities.
"He's been through so much more than me. I can't even think of what he's gone through, to be honest. He's gone through a lot of good. Whatever anyone can say, you can't take any of those championships away from him."
While the Celtics have a heated rivalry with the Lakers, they have no problems with the city they hail from and have several ties to it. Pierce is from the LA suburb of Inglewood. Garnett has an offseason home in nearby Malibu with neighbors such as ex-NBA star Reggie Miller and Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, and he has a lot of family in the LA area. Rookie guard Gabe Pruitt is from Los Angeles and played at Southern Cal. Forward Brian Scalabrine also played for the Trojans. Rivers and guard Eddie House had stints with the Clippers. The Celtics didn't spend much time in Los Angeles, however, as they arrived after the game in Utah late Saturday night and planned to fly back to Boston after last night's game. Garnett and Pierce said before last night's game they planned on ringing in the New Year in Boston, not LA. "I'm taking that flight [to Boston]," Pierce said. ... The Celtics have today off and resume practice tomorrow in Waltham.