Rivers, Glenn

▪ 2009
Glenn Anton Rivers; “Doc” 
born Oct. 13, 1961, Chicago, Ill.

      On June 17, 2008, Glenn (“Doc ") Rivers, in his fourth season as head coach of the Boston Celtics, became the franchise's sixth head coach to win a National Basketball Association (NBA) championship. Rivers, who had never won a play-off series in eight previous seasons as a coach in the league, guided the Celtics on a dramatic journey to a 66–16 season that culminated in defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 in the best-of-seven finals.

      Rivers first emerged on the basketball scene as a star at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., where he seemed destined to become the fourth member of his extended family to become a successful professional athlete: Jim Brewer, his uncle, and a cousin, Byron Irvin, both played in the NBA, and another cousin, Ken Singleton, was a Major League Baseball player. Rivers was nicknamed “Doc " by then Marquette University assistant coach Rick Majerus because Rivers wore a ‘'Dr. J " T-shirt (in honour of NBA star Julius Erving) at a summer basketball camp.

      While attending Marquette, Rivers helped the U.S. team capture a silver medal at the 1982 Fédération Internationale de Basketball Association world championships. After three seasons at Marquette, he left to become a second-round draft choice of the Atlanta Hawks in 1983 (he completed his degree in political science in 1985). He played 13 seasons, the first 8 with the Hawks, remaining their all-time leader in assists with 3,866. Rivers went on to play 864 regular-season games in the NBA, including stops with the Los Angeles Clippers (1991–92), the New York Knicks (1992–94), and the San Antonio Spurs (1994–96). He retired after the 1995–96 season with career averages of 10.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 3 rebounds.

      Rivers became a head coach for the first time in 1999–2000, taking an Orlando Magic team that was projected to finish near the bottom of its division to a 41–41 record and becoming NBA Coach of the Year. Fired after a 1–10 start in 2003–04, he worked as a TV analyst before resuming coaching with the Celtics in 2004–05.

      That was where the lessons of his father, Grady, a former police lieutenant in Chicago, became most evident. The Celtics were 24–58 in 2006–07, with critics calling for Rivers's job. When his father died in November 2007 after a brief illness, Rivers missed one game to attend the funeral and then took back to his team the lifelong lessons of consistency and patience he had received from his father. With blockbuster trades in which the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics, Rivers engineered the greatest turnaround in league history, winning the franchise's record 17th championship—and its first since 1985–86—just one day before Grady would have celebrated his 77th birthday.

Phil Jasner

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Universalium. 2010.

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