Former Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers still has his eye on his former team. After seven seasons leading the Clippers, Rivers is now in his first year coaching the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 38-17 mark. The legendary head coach was with L.A. from 2014-2020, leading the team to the playoffs six out of his seven seasons.
Rivers was a key figure in turning the Clippers franchise around, and he can’t help but watch how his former team is doing from afar. He is now set to face his former team for the second time this season, and he is keenly aware how how the Clips have changed — and how they’ve stayed the same.
Rivers: ‘I Knew Ty Was Going to Be a Hell of a Coach’
Seeing Tyronn Lue take his place as head coach of the Clippers this year has been a treat for Rivers, who served as a mentor to Lue for years. “I knew Ty was going to be a hell of coach. I don’t know why I knew that. I just knew it,” Rivers told the Philadelphia Inquirer Thursday.
The one-time NBA champion has kept a fond watch over his former team, and while he has enjoyed his recent success in Philly, Rivers has also enjoyed watching the Clippers, who are currently in third place in the West.
“They don’t have a lot of the same guys. They run a lot of the same stuff I run,” Rivers said. “But I wouldn’t have changed much offensively, either,” Rivers added. “They were pretty darn good last year. The difference is they’ve had a chance to practice together. You can see that. I think they’ve given the ball to [Paul George] more, which I think has helped them, you know, [with] him bringing the ball up. So they made some good changes.”
Rivers Still Sees His Fingerprint on This Current Clippers Team
After winning seven games in a row, the Clips are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now, coasting behind powerhouses Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, while also benefitting from a well-rounded squad. Rivers was part of the braintrust responsible for both players being in Clippers uniforms, and he still feels a strong connection to the players and to the team.
“You remember when I took the job, I said I had several goals,” Rivers said about his time with the Clippers. “One is when you hear the Clippers name, you look at it as a classy organization that wins, and a championship organization. Well, I think we did that as far as everything except for the championship part. You got to win that to become that obviously. But last year, we thought we had a shot. This year, they have a shot. And I feel like I played a part in that.”
Rivers isn’t wrong — and it will be fascinating to see whether the veteran head coach will meet Leonard, George and company in the finals sometime soon. Right now, it’s looking like a very real possibility.