A year after his arrival at the helm of the Boston franchise, in 2004, Danny Ainge had made a strong first choice: recruit Doc Rivers. The current Sixers coach will remain on the bench until 2013, before the signing of Brad Stevens who has just taken over the sporting direction of the franchise, in place of Danny Ainge.
Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge, it is the duo that has globally replaced the Celtics to the top of the league. Even in the stars, in 2008, with a 17th champion’s banner won against the Lakers. These two made Boston history. The departure of the second therefore necessarily affected the first.
« It represents a lot », Doc Rivers told NBC Sports. “I had done a good job in Orlando, enough to get fired at the end… Within a week of being fired, Danny Ainge called me and told me I was the one he wanted, who I was. ‘he believed in me. We had the worst of times. The first year, we won our division and we decided to go in another direction. People don’t realize the difficulty of rebuilding for two years, having a team booed and roughed up every night. Brad Stevens experienced that too in the early years. Danny would tell me every day that he was sorry and promise me it was going to turn out okay, that I shouldn’t leave. «
« We had made a pact: to leave at the same time »
We know the rest: in 2007, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrive and the Celtics immediately become the best team in the league and then a natural candidate for the title for several seasons. Danny Ainge had therefore kept his word after the first difficult years.
« He’s a player, a bettor and I loved that », continues Doc Rivers. “He was taking risks. There were times when we disagreed on certain things, but I trusted him. I told him to go, pull the trigger. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. But it was a pleasure to work with him. «
Former adversaries in the 1980s and 1990s, the two men are of the same generation (Rivers was born in 1961, Ainge in 1959) and while the former Boston ruler will transition and possibly then retire well deserved, the Philadelphia coach is still on the bench to play in the playoffs season after season.
« We had made a pact: to leave at the same time », says the Sixers coach. “So I told him it wasn’t fair to have done that. But I can tell, because I talked to him, Danny is doing great. So I’m happy for him, really. «