Glen Davis says Doc Rivers 'was lucky as hell' to coach the 2008 champion Celtics

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Glen Davis and Doc Rivers, in 2010. (Getty Images)
Glen Davis and Doc Rivers, in 2010. (Getty Images)

Glen Davis, who played under Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers in Boston from 2007 through 2011 and again from 2013 to 2015 in L.A., gave a rather candid assessment of his former coach on Thursday. The forward, who has enjoyed a contentious relationship with his longtime co-worker, unloaded on Rivers on Chris Broussard’s podcast, In the Zone.

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Via SB Nation, the strongest takeaway:

“Because what Doc had in ’08 was special,” Davis said on the podcast. “And he was lucky as hell. Lucky as hell. The year before that they were wearing trash bags (in the crowd). … But then the next year they win it, now he’s one of the best coaches ever? I’m just not feeling that, you know what I mean?”

Now we do.

Rivers and Davis were champions in 2007-08, when a team led by Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and longtime Celtic Paul Pierce won 66 games and the NBA title. Davis, a key rookie reserve, averaged 4.5 points and three rebounds a game in 69 contests off the bench.

Of course, as Davis notes, the season before was hardly a picnic for Rivers and his staff.

Glen Davis was still working at LSU when the 2006-07 Celtics won but 24 games. Those C’s would have been charged with tanking at times down the stretch of the season (discussions on either side have their merits) had the team’s younger colts not badly needed the development minutes crucial to what became the successful NBA careers of Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins, and arguably Gerald Green and Delonte West.

The C’s whiffed on lottery luck that spring, before finding that its misfortunate directly led to the sort of odds that allowed them to turn Jefferson, Green, West and that lottery pick (Jeff Green) into Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

That end of things was general manager Danny Ainge’s doing. Rivers’ culpability in the mess that preceded 2008 and his hand in the championship itself will forever be argued, but it does bear reminding that there was quite a bit of chatter surrounding the job that Doc had done with his rotations, development and offensive patterns while working with lesser rosters in Boston.

Glen Davis would tell you that he was probably the Celtics’ whipping boy, as the youngest of the team’s most prominent members …

… and Doc has been seen showing his frustrations with him before

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Rivers and Davis, then working for the Clippers, clashed on New Year’s Eve 2014, resulting in the coach having to demand his player leave the bench. From an ESPN report at the time:

“He was emotional tonight, and we told him to go sit down,” Rivers said. “I just thought he was a distraction, and when guys are a distraction, I don’t think they should be on the bench. If you’re a distraction for anybody on the bench that should be paying attention to the game, then go sit in the back so our guys can watch the game.”

The coach went on to say that he loved his player, but Davis was not re-signed by the Clippers in 2015 after two seasons with the team, and he has not played in the NBA since.

During the podcast with Broussard, Davis charged the Clippers with both forcing him to play through injury (what he calls “a broken ankle”) following a team misdiagnosis. In the podcast, Davis took issue with sitting in favor of offseason Rivers signee Spencer Hawes, whom the coach/GM gave up far too much of to acquire in 2014:

You got get Spencer Hawes, he does nothing, you gotta trade him. You got me on the bench, knowing that I could play, but you still go play Spencer Hawes… you’re just trying to cover your own butt because Spencer’s not panning out the way you want him to pan out, and I just don’t like that.

Hawes was terrible in his lone year in Los Angeles, shooting 39 percent from the floor and watching as his three-point percentage dropped by 125 percentage points from the year prior. He still worked in 73 games and averaged 17.5 minutes a contest. However, as a hoped-for replacement Davis was a lateral move offensively and a lesser player defensively at that point in his career, forever clashing with Rivers about his weight issues, failing to replicate the style that made him so effective in Boston, and moderately so during his star-crossed and suspension-heavy time in Orlando.

The championship role of Doc Rivers – as it is with any other coach that has ever taken to a ring, because rings usually come affixed with stars – will forever be debated. Great play masks poor coaching in much the same way poor talent often completely mitigates the contributions made by great coaching.

Glen Davis wasn’t just taking the style of the host when he demurred regarding Doc Rivers’ role in 2008, but at the very shortest it should be expected that these sorts of musings take place off the record. As a result, even if Davis does have a kernel to chew on, he still stands revealed as a frustrated, jobless ex-player with some beefs still to square away.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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