BOSTON — In what was the most tumultuous time in the Los Angeles Clippers history, Doc Rivers was a steady, unwavering presence of strength.
But the Clippers hired him to coach and assemble a title-contending roster, something Rivers will get a chance to do for many years to come after the franchise announced on Tuesday that Rivers has been given a contract extension through the 2019 season that's reportedly worth more than $50 million.
“This is an important day for this organization,” new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team.”
Give the former Microsoft CEO credit.
He said getting a deal done with Rivers was a priority and, to his credit, he kept his word.
"Steve has shown a clear and determined desire to make the Clippers one of the most elite, first-class and championship organizations in all of professional sports,” Rivers said. “We know we have work to do to get there, but I am motivated by the challenge and thankful for the opportunity to stand together with Steve as we continue to move toward our goal of winning an NBA title.”
In his first season after leaving the Celtics to become head coach and vice president of basketball operations, Rivers led the historically-horrible Clippers to a franchise-best 57 wins and a second consecutive Pacific Division title. He was promoted to president of basketball operations on June 16 - almost a year to the day after he was hired.
More than the wins, Rivers was praised by many for the way he handled the Donald Sterling saga.
In April, NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from the league in addition to fining him $2.5 million after racist comments he made were recorded and made available to the public.
After several weeks of legal tug-and-war, Sterling's control of the team was eventually removed and given to his wife Shelly, who then sold the team to Ballmer for $2 billion.
Having Rivers in the fold through the 2019 season doesn't move the needle in terms of a power shift out west or anything of that nature.
But it does establish him as one of the game's most powerful figures, joining Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and Flip Saunders in Minnesota as the only coaches with 600 or more wins in addition to having front-office, decision-making power on how the roster is constructed.
And for Clippers Nation, it further establishes the franchise as a place that has stability on every level from the owner, to the front office and of course, on the court - a trifecta that never existed under the old regime.