Doc Rivers Reveals Bizarre Danny Ainge Encounter Before Taking Celtics Job

Doc Rivers

Getty Doc Rivers recently explained a bizarre meeting with Danny Ainge that led to the Boston Celtics coaching job.

After beginning his coaching career with five years with the Orlando Magic, Doc Rivers was ready to take some time off. He wanted some time to catch his breath, but the Boston Celtics quickly came calling. More specifically, Danny Ainge came calling.

Rivers recently detailed that time when Ainge came looking to secure his services as the next Celtics coach for the 2004-05 season. Their first meeting together was quite the encounter.

Doc Rivers Said He Nearly Turned Down the Celtics Job

Rivers began his coaching career with the Magic during the 1999-00 season and went 41-41. He never had a losing season in his four full seasons with the Magic but was fired in this fifth season after jumping out to a 1-10 start.

Meanwhile in Boston, the Celtics struggled through a 36-46 record during that 2003-04 season and approached Rivers after that campaign.

During an appearance on the “All the Smoke” podcast, River admitted he early turned down the job and said his first encounter with Ainge regarding a possible opportunity with the Celtics was a strange one.

“I was going to turn down the Celtics job,” Rivers told podcast co-hosts and former Celtics players Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. “I had just left Orlando and I wanted a year (off). Danny calls me and said, ‘Can we talk?’

“I said “Yeah, when?’ and he said, ‘Now.’

“I said, ‘What do you mean now?’ He said, ‘Look outside your window.’

“Danny just flew all the owners to Orlando without asking me, and he’s ringing the doorbell.”

Rivers said they sat down at the table and he knew right away that he might be the right fit for Boston.

“We’re sitting there, and we’re talking about college players,” Rivers said. “I said, ‘I’ll tell you the guy I love, the kid at Oklahoma State, Tony Allen.’ The owners started laughing because they had just said that. That made me say, ‘Oh man, we’re connected.'”

After Early Struggles, Things Worked Out for Rivers in Boston

The Celtics hired Rivers before the 2004-05 season, and he guided Boston to a 45-37 record. The Celtics lost to the Indiana Pacers in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs. Boston failed to reach the playoffs the next two seasons.

After an ugly 24-58 mark during the 2006-07 season, the Celtics knew a change was necessary. Ainge went right to work in the offseason and swing a pair of trades that reshaped the franchise.

Ainge brought in Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics, and then he packaged five players and two first-round draft picks to secure the services of Kevin Garnett.

Ainge detailed how it all went down during an appearance on the “Knuckleheads Podcast” in August 2023.

“What happened was we made a deal for KG, but I wasn’t going to pay the price to get KG if KG wasn’t going to commit to us long-term,” Ainge said. “So, KG needed to sign an extension, and we needed a five-year commitment out of KG. He had one year left on his deal, and KG took one look at our team and just went, ‘Can’t do it, Danny. Me and Paul alone just isn’t enough to get it done.’

“I understood. So, I had this deal for KG with Minnesota, and I couldn’t get KG to commit to us, so I went and got Ray, having no idea. Now, I gave away the No. 5 pick, which was part of the KG package, so I have no idea how I’m gonna get KG, but I got Ray.

“Maybe now, with Paul and Ray, KG will want to come. Sure enough, as soon as we got Ray, KG’s like, ‘I’m on board now. I’m all in. I wanna get there.’”

In their first season together, Allen, Garnett, and Paul Pierce won 66 games and brought tome Boston’s first championship since 1986.

Read More