By Jessica Camerato
WALTHAM - For years, Doc Rivers has been regarded as a players coach. Turns out he lets his players do some of the coaching as well.
During Saturdays practice, Kendrick Perkins stepped off the exercise bike and reached for a whiteboard. His teammates huddled around him as he drew up a play for the white squad.
This exercise is something Doc Rivers has encouraged with his players.
Weve done that the last couple of days, he said. Were trying to let the players run the scrimmage. It tells you a lot as a staff, who they think should shoot, whos taking the ball out. They run all our stuff, which is amazing. But its good that theyre doing it. It makes them think and I think its good for them.
Rivers did the same as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He suggested a scheme to then-coach Mike Fratello, which ended up being the winning play of the game. Years later, Rivers used a play created by Gabe Pruitt to record a victory for the Celtics.
Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen draw up the most plays for the green team, while Delonte West, Glen Davis, and Perkins call the most for the white team.
Kevin Garnett is maybe the worst guy, Rivers laughs. I dont even think they allow him to have the pen in his hand anymore.
As for most successful, he gives the nod to Rondo and Allen. Rondo concurs.
Im the point guard, he told CSNNE.com. Probably Paul is second-best. But hes been in the system the longest time so he has an advantage. Its nothing special. We just know the system, just knowing were guys are supposed to be. I know what Paul does, so as far as execution, its big for us.
Both players and coaches benefit from letting the team call the shots. It also an opportunity for the players to have a small glimpse into Rivers world.
You learn a lot because first of all, you see what theyre thinking, said Rivers. You find out who they think should take the shots, you find out who you think should be in, and who they think can make plays. I think what they learn is, they get frustrated when guys dont execute. And then I can say, Yeah, thats how I feel all game.
Only one can start at the five
Rivers says as of now, Shaquille ONeal is in the first unit. He believes both Shaq and Jermaine ONeal are playing well, but Jermaine is further behind because of injuries.
I dont think they care but I think theyre both going for it, Rivers said of the starting center role. I think at the end of the day when you decide, theyre going to be able to live with it. But theyre going after each other. And I love it. I think its good for practice.
Shaq already feels comfortable playing with the other starters.
I knew I was going to gel with all the guys, he said. I watched them come up. I know where Kevin wants the ball, I know what to say to him. I know where Paul and Ray want the ball. I know what Rondos going to do. Just having the major experience and watching these guys and being able to play with other great players.
Rating the Shaq-tue Experience: On Friday Shaquille ONeal posed as a statue in Harvard Square and was flocked by herds of fans wanting to get near the big man. ONeal had a good time but, like a true pro, found room for improvement in his performance.
I moved a little bit, he said. Im disappointed in myself. I moved a couple times. One of my butt cheeks shut off circulation in one of my butt cheeks, so I had to reposition the gluteus maximus. But other than that, it was nice. People out there are nice, kids out there are nice, and it was a fun time.
So what was the funniest thing Shaq heard from the fans?
Somebody said he was my son, he said. And I had to look up and make sure that he really wasnt my son.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.