Clippers introduce Doc Rivers as head coach

Clippers introduce Doc Rivers as head coach
June 26, 2013, 5:00 pm
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BOSTON — The whole scene was awkward.

A visibly tired Doc Rivers sat at a table surrounded by Los Angeles Clippers brass minus team owner Donald Sterling moments before being introduced as the team's new head coach and vice president of basketball operations.

"This was a strange ordeal," said the seemingly under-dressed Rivers, who mentioned that his suits were all still in Boston.

Regardless, Rivers' new look as a member of the Clippers is one that will take some getting used to.

"This is a new challenge for me," Rivers told the assembled media in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon. "I had nine amazing years in Boston."

He seemed intent on making it 10 years as recently as Sunday morning.

Rivers said at that point, he was talking with Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, about the C's roster for this upcoming season because at that point, Rivers said, the deal wasn't going to get done.

However, the Clippers re-engaged the Celtics in trade talks and a deal was struck Sunday evening.

"This took a long, windy path," Rivers said.

But the final destination -- Rivers as the Clippers' 16th head coach -- has been reached.

Even though he's gone, Rivers understands that there's still a good amount of confusion and disappointment for some Celtics fans who feel betrayed and that Rivers quit on the team.

Ainge was asked by about Rivers and the notion that the coach quit on the C's, who received a unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 draft in return for letting Rivers out of the final three years of his contract in Boston.

"I'm in a completely different direction than that," Ainge said. "I do not believe Doc quit on this franchise. I believe he believed that, and he knows the pulse of players, better than anyone. He believed that a change was needed. Maybe he just thought he needed a change. But Doc gave everything he could, for nine years."

Ainge added, "I would never ever say that he quit."

Rivers' decision to leave Boston is multi-layered, one that was made in part because of what the Celtics have on their roster. But it also had to do with the opportunity that coaching the Clippers presents, as well as having a louder voice when it comes to personnel decisions.

Rivers said he had input in decisions made by the Celtics, but ultimately it was Ainge who had the final word.

With the Clippers, Rivers' input will indeed hold greater weight.

And that power -- combined with the roster he envisions having this season -- made a chance to coach the Clippers irresistible.

In many ways, it reminds him of the situation he had just a few years ago in Boston when the C's won an NBA title in 2008 and remained a title contender for three or four years afterward.

"We want to get to that level of winning," Rivers said. "Quite honestly, that's the only reason I'm coaching: to win titles."