You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to a lady I’ve never met, and don’t know much about other than she is the wife and mother of Doc and Austin Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers. I’m writing this because I have a mom, who I love dearly, and I’ve seen the angst she has dealt with when things didn’t always go mine or my brother’s way. I’ve seen her anger and hurt when people talked bad about us or tried to stand in the way of our goals. As Austin Rivers was carving up the Houston Rockets on Friday night, ESPN’s Mike Tirico said during a montage of his highlights “Forget Doc’s son, on this Mother’s day weekend, that’s Kris Rivers’ son.” My thought process immediately went from how cool this is for Doc to be on the sideline watching what his son is doing, to, how great this must be for his mother to watch. Kris Rivers’ husband and son have under gone tremendous scrutiny, and unwarranted venomous remarks since Austin was acquired from the Boston Celtics via trade back in January. I don’t know why. Let me stop lying, actually I do know why.
It’s because Doc, the Clippers President of Basketball Operations, gave an opportunity to his son to continue living a dream that he’s had since he was a child. Austin was born in 1992 towards the end of his father’s 13 year NBA playing career and then closely followed along as he became one of the most regarded coaches in the game today. Naturally, his son wanted to follow in his footsteps, and his dad has the resources to best help him do that. With that comes all the people who think that Austin is only benefiting because of nepotism. Umm, how is that any different from the many CEOs, managers, supervisors at Fortune 500 companies and businesses in industries across the world who have given their children, nieces, nephews, cousins and even their friends children’s opportunities they didn’t deserve?
The only difference is Austin actually deserves this opportunity. You may have forgotten he was a lottery pick—of the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012—after only one year at Duke. Think about this for a second. He could have been a senior in college this past season. Let remake this point clear. He could have been a senior playing for a National Championship with Duke just back in March. You may have also forgotten, that he was the top ranked high school player in America when he graduated from Winter Park High (FL) just outside Orlando in 2011. He won the Naismith Prep Player of the Year award, was a McDonald’s All-American and First Team Parade All-American. Then he won Freshman of the Year in the toughest conference in college basketball–according to the pundits–while also earning First Team All-Conference. His resume speaks for itself and solidifies why he was selected 10th overall in his class to play in the NBA.
Now, I know he’s had some bumps in the road since. But, not every one and done prospect comes into the Association completely polished and ready to ascend into the upper echelon right away. So what you’re seeing now from Austin, is him finally figuring out what he can be amongst the world’s best. Hopefully for him, the rest of his career will be more like what we’ve seen in games one and three against the Rockets (17 points and a postseason career high 25 points) and game four against the Spurs (16 points in 17 minutes) in round one.
But back to Mrs. Rivers. Coach and player have said she has been a “wreck” since Austin became a member of the Clippers. According to Coach Rivers, it was her “blessing” that he needed before acquiring her son. You know why? Because Mama knows, and she had to know this wasn’t going to be received by everyone as the historic, warm and fuzzy story it should be. I can assume she knew the vultures in the media and social media would be lurking to attack her guys. The life of a coaches wife can be difficult. Dealing with fickle fans from day-to-day, constant media scrutiny, their husband’s mood swings with wins and losses, and the countless hours combing through game film, all while they don’t get to have any normal relationship for almost nine months a year. Now you add to that equation your child, your baby boy, is also heavily involved.
All good mothers are the same; you can say what you want about them, but don’t mess with their family, especially their children or S#*! will get real! This historic situation and the flagrant, insensitive comments have to be draining no matter how strong a person can be. That’s why Austin’s playoffs breakout has to be equally sweet.
While Doc and Austin won’t admit this coming out party is a big deal to them, it has to be for Mrs. Rivers. On this Mother’s day weekend, you know she can still hear the echoes of the Staples Center crowd chanting her son’s name and giving him a standing ovation when he exited the game Friday night. The vindication she must be feeling right now from seeing her son blossom on the biggest stage has to be the best present she has gotten this year, maybe ever. Doc used his power to revive Austin’s career, that’s a priceless present for a mother to see her child living out their dream.
No matter what happens to the Clippers moving forward, Austin is shutting up the critics and proving that he belongs in the NBA on his own merits, and that Doc made the right decision trading for him. The rest of you all can keep on hating, while he does what he says his coach and father keeps shouting in his ear “just keep playing.” And, if Austin and the rest of his teammates can keep playing through the calendar flip into June, it could turn out to be a very special Father’s Day too, for Doc. But for now, enjoy your day Mrs. Rivers!