Doc Rivers (JESSICA RINALDI / Reuters)

But, shortly after his team clinched the Atlantic Division title with a 102-98 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, Summitt was on his mind. Rivers chose to finish his press conference with a few emotional and eloquent words about Summitt and a coach’s DNA.

“She's a neat lady. I got to know her a little bit. And I just think it's really sad, in a lot of ways. Not basketball, but everything,” Rivers said. “So, [I] didn't want to get emotional; I'm an emotional person. And when you see a giant like that leave the game, and leave the game because of health, it's just sad.

“But she is responsible for women's basketball. But she's not just a women's basketball coach, she's a great coach. And you know, I'm in this, and the longer I'm in this I just realize how much coaching means to all of us. You think about it today: Pat Summitt is retiring at her age [59] and Larry Brown is taking a job at his age [at 71, he’s been named in connection with SMU]. And it just tells you how much it's in your blood, how much you love it. And for her not to be able to do it, for me is very sad.”

Summitt, the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history, announced Wednesday that she is stepping down after 38 years as Tennessee’s coach because of the effects of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She’ll hold a press conference today at Tennessee and will be named the team’s head coach emeritus.

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