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.