July 08, 2008
Sitting behind Doc Rivers at a basketball game right now is like sitting behind Santa Claus.
The head coach of the World Champion Boston Celtics came into the gym and sat in the front row with two of his sons, so that he could watch the Rose-Beasley showdown.
The only problem was that so many people wanted to come up and congratulate him, or ask him for a favor, that it was almost impossible for him to focus solely on the game.
At one point, even one of the players got involved in the act. The Bulls' Marcel Jones accidentally kicked a ball on defense that hit Rivers almost squarely in the chops. As he walked over to the sidelines to grab the ball, Jones instantly recognized Rivers and seemed embarrassed that the ball had hit the coach in the face. "Sorry coach," Jones said. "My bad." Then he paused, and it sounded like he said "World Champion."
Whatever he said, Rivers took it all in stride, with a big smile on his face.
That seemed to be his expression throughout the day, no matter how many people came up to him.
"It's nice," Rivers said of the well-wishes. "You never get tired of congratulations ... it's something that I can get used to."
Rivers has the type of personality that you wish most other athletes and coaches had these days. As he was about to walk away, towards even more admirers, you could tell that he continues to just soak up the moment.
"If (getting congratulated) gets old then shame on me."