For the past four seasons, Doc Rivers has been tasked with managing superstar personalities and reigning them in to play Boston Celtics basketball.
This weekend, he has the job of getting 12 of the NBAs best to play on the same page.
For the second time in four years, Rivers was named head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. This time around he will have four Celtics on his roster -- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo, who was not on the team when Rivers previously coached the All-Stars in 2008.
The Celtics will come off the bench, while Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, and Dwight Howard will start. Chris Bosh, Al Horford and Joe Johnson will round out the reserves.
While these All-Stars will have to play united on Sunday, it has only been a matter of days since they were pitted as foes.
Two weeks ago the Celtics defeated Howard and the Magic in Boston. Howard was whistled for a technical foul during Boston's victory, which had its share of heated moments.
The following weekend tensions rose as the Heat came to the TD Garden. Players dealt hard fouls as the desire to win led to arguments, and perhaps the most memorable moment of the Celtics win came when James shoved Rondo, who was trying to listen in on a Heat huddle (no timeout had been called).
And as if that competition wasnt enough, Stoudemire and Horford were also involved in a war of words in the media.
While Rivers joked about his approach to coaching these players, he isnt overly concerned once the game starts.
Im going to tell them to get it on, he smiled. Hey, lets get some action going in the locker room. I think what were going to do is just have everybody have separate seats in the locker room and face the lockers and not look at each other.
Itll be when they get in there and I think its all good. Listen, back in the days there was a lot of animosity with each other, and then they got on the floor and they loved each other, and the next day they didnt like each other again. So thats just the beast.
Rivers is taking a lighthearted approach to coaching the Eastern Conference team. When it comes to preparation, he laughed that he is going to leave it up to assistant coach Lawrence Frank.
Actually, as a matter of fact, I told Lawrence hes planning the practice," Rivers said. Were running his plans. The ones that dont work are his. The ones that work are mine.
As for a pregame pep talk, Rivers didnt have to deliver one in New Orleans. The Eastern Conference team had lost, 153-132, the previous year and James wanted to address his teammates. It worked, as the East won, 134-128.
The first one in New Orleans was phenomenal because LeBron got up and he actually gave a serious talk before then, Rivers recalled. He asked if he could say something to the team, and he was serious. I guess they had gotten blown out the game before and he talked about how embarrassing that was. And so, after he spoke I told our coaches, I think were good tonight. And we were. He was the MVP.
Even though Rivers will be coaching a new group of players this weekend, he is still concerned about his own team during the break. The Celtics begin a four-game West Coast road trip two days after the All-Star Game, and Rivers has encouraged his players to head out west early to get their bodies acclimated.
Ive suggested, go west young man. And Ive got a feeling, Vegas, probably thats what they think," he laughed. I meant like Park City would be phenomenal for them, as long as they dont ski. But I think most of them are going to try to do that.
Once the game wraps up in L.A., it is on to Oakland where the Celtics will play the Golden State Warriors, followed by matchups against the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz.
Its a good West Coast trip, he said. Usually when you go out west after the break, we always start with those deadly back-to-back games, which are killers for everyone. At least in this case we have days off, practice time.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA