Doc Rivers has coached athletes ranging from future Hall of Famers to struggling bench warmers. He's learned over the years how to treat them equally.
It's a lesson he applies to his personal life, as well.
The Celtics coach is the father of four athletes, and just as important as spending time with his entire family has been divvying up his attention among each child, regardless of where they are in their sports career.
From catching Jeremiah play at Indiana University to jetting to Duke University to watch Austin, flying to Puerto Rico for his daughter Callies volleyball games to returning home to Florida to see teenage son Spencer, Rivers has found a way to pay each child equal attention when he can sneak a few hours away from the Celtics.
At the end of the day, hes father first, coach second, Rivers oldest son, Jeremiah, told CSNNE.com. Even though were all in different situations in our lives, he supports all of us equally in what we do.
This summer, both Austin and Jeremiah Rivers participated in the Las Vegas Summer League team. Austin, the 10th overall pick in this years NBA Draft, made his first pro appearance with the New Orleans Hornets. Jeremiah, who went undrafted out of college and has played overseas, suited up for the New York Knicks.
Even though Austin, 20, has garnered the most attention over the years as a top high school prospect, member of the Duke Blue Devils, and a 2012 lottery pick, Rivers never put more emphasis on one sibling over another.
I think hes just proud of all of us, said Jeremiah. I guess at the end of the day, hed try to see all of us equally if he could.
Whenever Doc finds a small window of time to catch one of his childrens games, he has to jump at the opportunity -- and onto a plane. The flights were rarely short. Often times, they involve jetting more than halfway across the country to watch as much of a contest as he can squeeze into his hectic schedule.
Jeremiah recalls a Celtics' West Coast road trip wherein his father flew from Los Angeles to his collegiate game in Indiana and back to California in the same night. In many instances, the children wouldn't know if Doc would be able to attend their games. Spotting him in the stands was always a welcome surprise.
Its kind of amazing how he does it, Austin told CSNNE.com. His team has a 100-something game season. If he has eight hours, hell use those eight hours to fly to one of our games. The next eight hours he gets, he flies to another game. He puts it all together somehow.
Theres a lot of times I was surprised to see him. He really wouldnt tell me a lot of games. I would just look up after a game or during a timeout you might just peek in the stands where your family is and you might see him. I always knew my mom was going to be there because shes Super Mom and shes going to be at every game of every child. Thats just how she is. My dad would just be a surprise.
Said Jeremiah, Its a lot of travel, but he loves us and were very thankful for that.
When Doc cannot make it to the games, he records, analyzes, and discusses them with his children. During Summer League, he had a charity commitment that conflicted with his sons playing schedules. Hours after a Knicks game, Doc called Jeremiah to offer pointers, having already reviewed the film.
Honestly, he just wants to see us do well and he wants to support us, said Jeremiah. Thats his number one thing. Thats why kind of every year he doesnt know if hes going to come back to coaching or not, because he wants to get to every game.
Austin and Jeremiah are accustomed to Docs schedule by now. Aside from the years he spent as head coach of the Orlando Magic, they are used to having a father on the road. The brothers credit their mother, Kris, for being the backbone of the family and praise Doc for instilling a sense of respect, structure, and discipline from a distance.
All the while, he supports each of his four children equally regardless of the distance between them.
Hes really never pushed us to be basketball players, said Austin. Hes always told us, Do what you want to do, but whatever you do, youve got to do it the Rivers way and thats to put your all into it. Thats basically what weve done.