Doc Rivers didn’t expect to jump right back into the league after he suddenly parted ways with the Los Angeles Clippers last week.
The veteran head coach “was ready to take a break” — and understandably so. He has held a head coaching job in the league every season since he was first hired by the Orlando Magic back in 1999.
Yet when the Philadelphia 76ers came calling just hours after learning he was available, Rivers just couldn’t say no.
“I love coaching. I absolutely love it,” Rivers said Monday, via ESPN. “But I was not going to just coach anybody, I can tell you that. I was ready to take a break … it just depended on the team that was available, and if that team in my opinion was ready to win.”
‘It’s a job you just couldn’t turn down’
Rivers and the Clippers parted ways after seven seasons last week, shortly after they blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. He then reached a five-year deal with the 76ers just days later.
Though Philadelphia has its own issues — the 76ers were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs this year — Rivers said the talent and potential on their roster was too appealing not to at least take a look at the job.
“When [general manager Elton Brand] called, it was an easy, ‘Get on the plane and take a look,’ for me,” Rivers said, via ESPN. “You look at these players, these young players and their potential … the fact that they’ve had so much success in so many ways at the ages they are already, and where I think they can go, for me it’s a job you just couldn’t turn down.
“That’s why I’m here. Just really excited about it.”
Rivers is now tasked with taking control of the 76ers locker room — something previous coach Brett Brown reportedly struggled to do — and finding a way to get stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to mesh well in his new system.
Yet seeing what those two have already accomplished together and the rest of the pieces he has to work with, Rivers is confident he can figure out the winning combination in Philadelphia.
"[Simmons and Embiid have] won 65 percent of the games they’ve played, so it clearly works when they play together," Rivers said, via ESPN. “This team is loaded with talent. We just have to figure out how to make it work the best."
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