Posted by Sekou Smith
LOS ANGELES — You think Phil Jackson‘s a great motivator?
How about his counterpart on the other sideline for these NBA Finals? Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled the ultimate move months ago when he challenged his team after a February win over the Lakers here at Staples Center.
Rivers asked each of his players for $100 after a game and told them that they’d get it back only if they returned here before season’s end — since that was their only road game against the Lakers during the regular season that meant the only way they’d get their cash back was to make it here to the Finals.
Wednesday morning Rivers handed the cash back to his team, making good on his promise to return their cash since they made good on their promise to finish what they started more than three years ago when the Big Three was put together.
Rivers doesn’t operate with the same kind of fanfare as Jackson, but his players wouldn’t trade him in for any other coach out there.
“I don’t think Doc cares about all that either,” Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said of the traveling circus that is a Jackson media event. “Doc is an underrated coach. I don’t think he gets enough credit. I don’t think you can put too many coaches in his situation to come coach our team and have success. Because it’s a challenge coaching our team, seriously. We have a lot of egos. So for Doc to come in and coach this squad, I just don’t think too many guys could come in and do it.”
Even Lakers star Kobe Bryant admitted to admiring Rivers.
“I love Doc,” he said, “and I love his personality and the relationship that he has with his player. I had a moment to spend some time with him over the All-Star break a couple of years ago. He just happened to be on the same bus for a function, and I had a chance to kind of talk to him a little bit. He’s just a down-to-earth guy, just extremely sharp, prepares extremely well, and I just think he’s the type of coach guys would love to play for.”