Doc Rivers received a hero’s welcome in his return to Boston.
The Los Angeles Clippers coach received three standing ovations Wednesday night in his first and only game in the city this season. The Clippers beat the Boston Celtics, 96-88, but the night was all about Rivers.
“Coming back here, I get to walk under a banner I helped get,” he said after the game, choking up. “This day and half has been a lot of fun, but it’s also very emotional, as well.”
Rivers, 52, led the Celtics past the rival Los Angeles Lakers to capture the 2008 NBA title.
Players and fans alike applauded Rivers as the night started and when the first quarter concluded, the Celtics played a video tribute for Boston’s former coach.
“It didn’t surprise me. It’s an amazing fan base and I want everything to go well for them,” Rivers said (via Boston Globe). This is such a neat place. People don’t get Boston. They don’t understand. It is a special, different place….The best decision I ever made was when I decided to come here.’’
In June, the Celtics agreed to send Rivers, who went 416-305 in Boston, to the Clippers in exchange for an unprotected first-round draft pick in 2015.
The split made sense, as Rivers did not appear to want to stick around for the aging Celtics’ rebuilding process. Boston hired 36-year-old Butler Coach Brad Stevens in July.
The Clippers (15-8), a preseason favorite to reach the NBA Finals, remain competitive in the tough Western Conference, while Boston (10-14) is exceeding expectations in the weak East.