Irving, Rivers share mutual respect

Irving, Rivers share mutual respect
April 5, 2013, 8:45 pm
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BOSTON -- Doc Rivers knows the type of player he's coaching against when the Boston Celtics face Kyrie Irving. The sharpshooter is well aware of the type of coach he's going up against, too.

Irving met Rivers during the 2011 NBA lockout. Rivers attended his son Austin's games at Duke University; Irving was there as well after leaving the school months earlier to become the first overall pick in the draft.  

The two had a mutual respect for one another -- one as a young player looking up to a championship-winning coach, the other as a basketball guru who recognized a future All-Star.

"It was awesome," 21-year-old Irving told prior to the Celtics' game Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. "[Meeting him] was a great experience. I'm still a big fan of Doc and respect his coaching prowess. He's done a hell of the job in the Celtics organization.

"He's a player coach, almost similar to Coach [Byron] Scott (of the Cavs). They both played the game and understand the day to day, and also they expect the best out of you every single night. You kind of take on their attitude and carry it out on to the court."

Irving brings his A-game on the court whenever he plays the Celtics. He entered Friday's game averaging 31.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals in two games against the C's this season. But he struggled Friday, scoring 11 points with five rebounds, eight assists and two steals in the Cavs 97-91 win. Irving shot just 4-of-20 from the field.

"Any time you go up against the Celtics or any good team in our league getting ready for the playoffs at the end of the season, it's going to be intense," he said.

Regardless of their opposing teams, Rivers has still taken time to offer Irving advice early in his career. He also greets Irving on the sidelines before tip-off, an acknowledgment that isn't given to just any player.

"[He told me] just keep getting better, continue to work hard," said Irving. "I'm a big fan of his, he's a big fan of mine. There' a respect factor there and he's always looking out for me."