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Doc Rivers, The Basketball Gods, and Getting Back on Defense”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 13, 2007

A week or so ago, Doc Rivers commented on the “winning by losing mantra seemingly embraced by many fans”. The losing, of course, leading to the wishful-thinking via the luck-of-the-draw landing of Greg Oden or some other savior of the franchise. He said, pointedly, “I think the basketball gods punish you” (scroll to bottom of linked page) if you try to lose, or don’t try to win. So, who are these basketball gods and how does he know them? Well, Doc Rivers played a lot of basketball in his life, thousands of hours on the playgrounds of Chicago, many more in schools, at Marquette and in the pros. He was very talented and hugely sought after coming out of Proviso East High School and left Marquette early for the pros. He played 13 years in the NBA, including an all-star year. In the pros, his talent alone could not always sustain him; he had to work very hard. Sometimes things went right, sometimes things went wrong. When things go wrong for no apparent reason, even after you feel as though you’ve done everything right, where do you to turn for answers? To the basketball gods.

Which is a kind of a joke. Because, in reality, nobody knows anything about no gods. But since basketball’s a sport, a game, it’s cool to talk about those gods, and even take them semi-seriously. Since the gods are, in reality, the imagined and, therefore, real manifestation of integrity (the honor that you give to proper effort) they must be respected at all times. Respecting the basketball gods means respecting effort and the inviolate principle of team play. That’s how Doc Rivers played and that’s how Doc Rivers coaches. That’s why, if able, you always give it your all in drills. That’s why you always make the extra pass. That’s why you always, always, always get back on defense to help your teammates. And that’s why you never intentionally don’t try your best, right up until the last moment, to win each game. And, finally, that’s why, if given the chance, Doc Rivers will turn the Celtics franchise around.

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10 Responses to “Doc Rivers, The Basketball Gods, and Getting Back on Defense””

  1. dmwr said

    Reminds me of a joke (can’t remember the comedian):

    How come when a pro sports player make a good play or wins something they thank God, but when they fail they blame themselves? Just once I’d love to see a player say “Everything was going great until Jesus made me fumble. He hates our team.”


  2. I can’t really speak of the football or baseball or velodrome gods, I am truly only intimate with the basketball deity. And they tell me that in blaming them (the basketball gods), one understands that one is, indeed, blaming oneself. Here is the question for you, Grasshopper: who then is the basketball god? (Besides, you know, Bird, “The Pearl”, and that puppy god, DWade.)


  3. dmwr said

    David Stern? 🙂


  4. I’d have to see his on-court work ethic before I said yes or no. (Then there’s the whole Jordan retirement/gambling thing; the Knicks magically getting the Ewing draft pick. Oh . . . let’s not bother.) Otherwise, no, Grasshopper, you’re wrong. Go sit in a waterfall for a few days and try again.


  5. John Klein said

    I think that photo of Bassy (Sebastian Telfair) sitting on the bench is quite telling. It looks like he just got into trouble or something. I think his game is the polar opposite of Doc Rivers’.


  6. i don’t know much about Telfair, except his rep as a high school phenom, etc. He looks pretty lost on the court these days, totally lacking confidence. Must not be easy after being king of the hill as a kid. He’d better develop range on his jumper and get automatic with it, too, because his other skills, by themselves, aren’t going to get him even into the top half of the point guards in the league. I’m rooting for the kid.


  7. Dan Ziminski said

    Bill Russell?


  8. DZ – – Russell is Moses. (This Moses not That Moses). Russell, Auerbach, those early Celtics laid down the basketball commandments: Though shalt not walk the ball upcourt; Though shalt not rely on half-court defense; Though shalt not rely on one big scorer to bail-out the team; Though shalt believe in one another (ball movement on offense, pressure defense into help-defense); Though shalt learn, understand, practice and assiduously apply the fundamentals of good basketball; Though shalt mentally and physically wear down the other team; and last but not least and as the best way of spreading the word of this gospel – Thou Shalt Win. To find the true basketball god of gods, one must look within. (But good guess.)


  9. Hobie Jones said

    Basketball God ? – …is a General in Lubbock, Texas


  10. […] to say “ball don’t lie” after an opponent’s missed FT on a bad call on him. The basketball gods were watching here, too. Chris Cassel was sent forth to punish the Nationals and he did. He […]


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