HOUSTON The shooting deaths on Friday of 27 school-age children and adults in Newtown, Conn. wasn't the first national tragedy that Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has had to cope with while doing his job.
But that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.
Rivers was among the many across the nation shaken by the Friday morning incident in which a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary school and reportedly opened fire with a .223 caliber rifle that killed seven adults and 20 school-age children.
Just as parents grapple with how to address it with their children, Rivers found himself unsure of how to handle the topic in his locker room full of grown men - many of them also parents - just hours before tip-off.
"I don't know what the right answer is," he said. "I know a lot of our guys are talking about it. It was awful, just an awful day, it really is."
Rivers added, "this is our job. It's not a game for us; it's what we do. But when something like this happens, it supersedes job and everything else. As a parent, I don't know this is awful, awful what has happened."
While it may seem to hit the Celtics harder than most NBA teams (Newtown, Conn. is about three hours southwest of Boston), Rivers doesn't see this as a pain shared by New England only.
"It's all of our community," Rivers said. "This is a national incident. It hits us all home because we're parents and it's just senseless."