Poor, Doc. As if losing one of his team’s best players to free agency was not enough, he feels responsible.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Doc Rivers takes the blame for Ray Allen’s decision to leave Boston and sign with Miami.
“People can use all the Rondo stuff – and it was there, no doubt about that – but it was me more than Rondo,” said Rivers, who is working as an NBC analyst during the Olympics. ”I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.”
Rivers further acknowledged the rift between Allen and Rondo, but what may have been most surprising is what else he said about Allen’s exit. If there was any doubt before this that Rivers cared about his players, this statement pretty much says it all. And if someone is going to cross him, then he is definitely going to be upset about it.
“I was pissed at him,” Rivers said. ”I was pissed at him for his reasons for leaving. But what people don’t get: I wasn’t pissed at him for leaving Miami. I could care less he went there. And that’s a fact. With the fans, I know it was: How could he go to Miami? But once he decided he didn’t want to stay with us, he has the right to go wherever he wants.”
It is tough to see Rivers feel this way because he is considered one of the most respected coaches among players in the NBA. He cares about his players, and he obviously takes it personally when they do not return the same sentiments. Rivers helped Allen take his career to the next level with an NBA championship, and as he said, he did not agree with Allen’s reasons for wanting to leave.
Players have rifts all the time. Rivers and the entire Celtic organization were fully aware of the issues, and the coach did his best to keep things civil between the two stars. But, like he said, it came down to a decision between making Allen happy or doing what was best for the team.
He definitely made the correct decision. Boston would not have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without Avery Bradley in the starting lineup, and they certainly relied on Rondo’s improved scoring aggressiveness.
“As a coach, you’ve got to do what’s best for the team. If you guys don’t like it, they’re going to leave. If they stay and don’t like it, well, your team’s going to suck anyway. Even if this happens, you still have to do it. You can’t coach worrying about any individual. You’ve got to coach worrying about your entire team: whether that gets you a championship or whether that gets you fired.”
Life is not fair, but it also goes on. That is exactly what Allen and Rivers will do with their respective teams as the 2012-2013 season approaches.