LOS ANGELES -- The first meeting between Doc Rivers and two of his former star players, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, ended up being no meeting at all.
Pierce (groin) and Garnett (ankle) were among four Brooklyn starters who sat out Saturday night's Nets-at-Clippers game because of injury, and they weren't even at the Staples Center to watch Rivers' new team beat Brooklyn, 110-103.
Rivers said when the three were together with the Celtics, Garnett and Pierce wouldn't come to games they weren't playing in. Now they follow the same habit with the Nets.
"I thought that was actually funny," said Rivers, who still texts frequently with the two.
Prior to the game -- and when it was thought Pierce and Garnett would play Saturday -- all three talked to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports about their Boston breakup. Among the tidbits:
-- Neither Pierce nor Garnett had much interest in staying in Boston without Rivers . . . or, more specifically, staying in a rebuilding situation. Said Garnett: "It wasn't the first choice. It wasn't likely . . . But I'm a chameleon. If I had to be in Boston for my last years without Doc, that probably would have been my last year of playing. More importantly, I hate to lose or be in that position." Said Pierce: "It probably would have been really difficult."
-- For a short time in the offseason, the three of them they'd be together this year with the Clippers. Said Garnett: "I actually thought I was going to L.A., to be honest. I thought [Rivers], I and Paul were going." Said Pierce: "At one point we thought we would all be in L.A."
-- The admiration the players have for their former coach -- and vice-versa -- is clear.
Garnett said that under Rivers, he "learned how to be a man, how to speak and how to communicate better than when I came in . . . He gave us confidence we can do everything. Although he is well spoken and comes across really intellectual, Doc's a beast, Doc's an animal. There is nothing soft about him. He pushed us every day."
Added Pierce: "I really grew to the player I've become and really matured under him through good and bad. Because of him, I'm the player I am."
For Rivers, the affection is mutual.
"When you win a NBA championship and when you go through the struggles you must go through together, you're bonded for life," Rivers told Yahoo! Sports. "It's like having a blood transfusion. I'm not sure what they got from me, but I gained so much because I was lucky enough to coach them."