Tag Archives: Doc Rivers

If Blake Griffin Leaves LA, Blame CP3

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul haven’t always gotten along. Photo Credit: NBA.com

If Blake Griffin leaves the LA Clippers and Chris Paul stays, it’s an indictment on CP3.

The Clippers can offer him the most money. He’s already playing in the second largest market in the U.S. The team has also won .600 percent of their games the last six seasons. So what other reason does he have to leave?

Let me put this in relationship terms. For example, when a man or woman ends a relationship or gets dumped, their friends will say “they weren’t good enough for you.” When the next relationship ends they may say “that’s okay, it wasn’t the right time for you.” After another breakup you might hear, “don’t give up, your perfect match is closer now than ever.”

At a certain point, a true friend should pull that man or woman aside and say “you may be the problem.” I’m looking at the Halle Berry’s, Brad Pitt’s, Elizabeth Taylor’s and Tom Cruise’s of the world. That’s where Paul is now. Head coach Doc Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer need to pull him aside and say “It’s you.”

Paul has a reputation around the league for being difficult to play with. It was rumored that he was the reason DeAndre Jordan initially signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 2015. According to several reports in the days after the center signed with the Mavs, Jordan grew tired of Paul’s constant barking, petty gestures and freezing him out of the offense.

Current Clipper free agent JJ Redick appears to be a lock to leave this summer. He and Paul have had ugly open disputes on the court during their time in LA. In fact, their dislike goes back to their days as ACC rivals when they played for Duke and Wake Forest.

If Griffin chooses the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets or Boston Celtics, all of whom have been rumored to be interested in him, he’s stating clearly he no longer wants to play with Paul. All things considered, those teams aren’t definitively better with him than the Clippers are.

Paul is a future Hall of Famer, and at 32 years old is still a top three-point guard. He is a winner no doubt. He has proved it over the course of his 11-year career with both the New Orleans Hornets and now Clippers. The franchise has never enjoyed the level of success it has currently until he arrived. Therefore there’s no reason to leave that team unless you can’t stand the guy tabbed as the franchise player.

Happy Mother’s Day Mrs. Rivers

Doc Rivers congratulates his son Austin, as he exits the game. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

First, Happy Mother’s day to all of the Mother’s out there. We all know that without your sacrifices we wouldn’t be here today. But I want to send a special Mother’s Day wish to Mrs. Rivers.

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.

Photo Courtesy: NBA on TNT

 

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!


UN-Magical Moments

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Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic wrap up their twenty fifth season as an NBA franchise. One where they trotted out the best players and significant members in the teams history, but I can’t help but to think about what could’ve been.

While they are far from the worst franchise in league history, you could argue they have been the worst managed. Being located in central Florida where it’s sun drenched ninety percent of the time, surrounded by family friendly fun with a mix of young adult exuberance—nightlife—and a tax free state. Let me say that again, a TAX FREE STATE. You would think they would’ve attracted top tier free agents that would’ve brought more than two NBA Finals appearance and won at least one World title.

So without further or do, here is my list of Magic mistakes.

1.) Shaq.

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Shaq put Orlando on the basketball map on and off the court in 1992.

Without a doubt they should’ve done everything possible to keep him in uniform. I know he left the Magic Kingdom as Free Agent, but he should’ve been offered outrageous extension the moment it was possible. He is the kind of player you give the keys to the franchise to—not a Dwight Howard. All O’Neal did was win three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and the most hurtful one for magic fans, one with in state rivals the Miami Heat.

2.) Not keeping Doc Rivers. This one could easily be number one on my list.

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Rivers has won an NBA Title and been to another Finals since being fired by Orlando.

His teams overachieved in his first tenure as a NBA coach. During his time, the Magic front office were “maneuvering” to draw in a trio of free agents. This left Coach Rivers and his teams very handicapped to do any winning in what was a very loaded Eastern Conference in the early 2000’s. The rest is history, Rivers was fired and eventually moved on to Boston where he won one title, made the NBA Finals twice and the Eastern Conference Finals two other times. Now he’s considered one of the top two coaches in the league along with the San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich.

3.) Trading away Ben Wallace.

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Wallace was a 4 time DPOY and his Pistons knocked out the magic in the playoffs 3 seasons.

Wallace was an after thought in the 2000 sign and trade with Detroit to bring Grant Hill to Orlando. Even without the injuries to Hill this would’ve stung. Wallace was a four time defensive player of the year winner and two time rebounding champ with the Detroit Pistons. He was the anchor behind a team that won an NBA Title and played for another. To make matters worse, his Pistons teams eliminated the Magic three times (2003,2007,2008) in the playoffs during his time in the Motor City.

4.) Trading away Tracy Mcgrady to the Rockets for Steve Francis.

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T-Mac was a two time Scoring Champ and 1st Team All NBA as a member of the Magic.

Could you imagine T-Mac playing with a young Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson? Those two were drafted the summer he was traded. I firmly believe Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley stunted Dwight and Jameer’s growth in their first couple of seasons. T-Mac went on to flourish alongside an often injured Yao Ming in Houston. McGrady alongside a raw, athletic Howard would’ve been the exceptional one-two punch management was going for when it courted Tim Duncan to play with McGrady in 2000.

5.) Courtney Lee misses an alley oop to win game two of the 2009 NBA Finals.

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The Magic have one victory in two trips to the NBA Finals (2009 & 1995). That’s 1-9. Oh how different the 2009 Finals would’ve been had that Magic stolen game two and home court advantage from the L.A. Lakers, just three days after being blown out by 25 points in game one. Orlando would’ve returned to central Florida tied 1-1 with three games to play and a psychological advantage for a young team. The Magic went on to win game three behind a record setting shooting performance before losing in overtime in game four and succumbing to the pressure of elimination in game five. Just imagine playing game five tied at two games and the pressure it would’ve put on the more experienced Lakers or even the Lakers having to hold off a confident, underdog Magic team up 3-2 with two games in L.A. In my opinion, the Magic would’ve finished off the Purple & Gold and completed their improbable run of knocking off three consecutive favorites—2008 defending champion Boston Celtics, MVP LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs and Kobe’s Lakers—and Dwight Howard, and Stan Van Gundy would still be in Black & Blue.

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6.) Firing Stan Van Gundy.

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SVG has the best win percentage in Magic history at .657.

SVG was and still is the best overall coach in team history. He has the best win percentage in team history at .657. Letting former General Manager Otis Smith cut SVG lose to appease Dwight Howard may not sting right now, but his coaching style is perfect for young players who are still learning the game. No knock on Jacque Vaughn, but SVG has a college temperament that young players need to maximize their potential. He’s not afraid to get into the face of his players. That’s what guys in their rookie to third year need. I think SVG also needs them to, the Magic were in a youth movement when they brought him in before the 2007-2008 seasons. His style is the reason they went from being swept in the first round (2007 playoffs) to NBA Finals in two seasons. This move will sting again when he resurfaces with another franchise and excels like Doc Rivers.

7.) Not resigning Hedo Turkoglu and trying to replacing him with Vince Carter.

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“Turk” won Most Improved Player of the NBA in 2008 as a member of the Orlando Magic.

“Turk” was a matchup nightmare throughout the 2009 Playoffs. His size, playmaking and scoring ability was what led that team to the Finals. Dwight was great in key games—especially against the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals—but remember he missed the first round clincher against the scrappy Philadelphia 76ers and it was the shooting of the Magic that propelled them to a blowout victory of the Celtics in game seven at the “New Garden” also without All Star point guard Jameer Nelson. Who facilitated all that? Turk. Former GM Otis Smith should’ve worked out a favorable two year deal to keep Hedo around while he was in the peak of his prime. Vince Carter was a shell of himself long before he made his “homecoming” to central Florida, that’s why he was shipped off to Phoenix after a season and a half. To make matters worse, Otis Smith brought Turk back, well after his prime, which hurt on the court and financially due to the large contract he received after his spectacular playoff performance.

So there you have it. My most Un-Magical moments in Orlando pro basketball history. I want to hear from you, are there any I missed?