On the May 19 episode of “Ticket & The Truth,” NBA Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett gave his reaction to the Philadelphia 76ers firing head coach Doc Rivers shortly after being eliminated from the Eastern Conference Semifinals while talking with former teammate Tony Allen.
Garnett first explained that he was “shocked” by the move, then explained why firing Rivers was the wrong move.
“Today’s owners really understand management in today’s world, especially in sports, no one wants to wait on anything, and they want instant gratification. If they ain’t in two years, you know, and I felt like what Doc was trying to, at least appear to be, trying to establish some culture there.”
Garnett added that Embiid’ evolution was a sign that what Rivers was doing was working and that the Sixers’ impatience did them in.
“Joel Embiid being MVP this year, taking another step, being responsible playing. I think having a responsibility to himself playing a lot more, at least it came off like that. Man, so I was mad from the perspective of you gotta give culture a chance to be like something on the stove, man. It’s gotta simmer. It’s gotta turn. It’s gotta curate, man. I just feel like management just gave up too soon.”
Rivers coached Garnett on the Boston Celtics from 2007 to 2013, winning a championship together in 2008.
Rasheed Wallace Criticizes Doc Rivers After Firing
While it appears Garnett had nothing but high praise for his former coach, Rasheed Wallace, who also played under Rivers during his time with the Celtics, criticized Rivers on “That’s What Sheed Said” for failing to make in-game adjustments.
“You gotta get somebody in there that the players respect,” Wallace said. “He doesn’t make adjustments. That’s just from being in the locker room with him for that one season. That seems to always be his biggest knock. If his team is up, you don’t have to coach s*** then. When you are in the trenches, and you are going against another team and another good coach, you’ve gotta be more than a locker room manager.”
Wallace revealed that Rivers wants his players to make adjustments in the game instead of him.
“He depends more on the players to make those adjustments, but coach, you have to come in there and make adjustments as well, especially when what you’re trying hasn’t worked.”
Doc Rivers Believed His Job Was Safe
NBA Insider Marc Stein reported that, following their performance against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rivers believed he’d retain his job following the Sixers’ elimination.
“Another strong rumbling in Chicago: Doc Rivers and his staff came away from Philadelphia’s Game 7 loss in Boston in Round 2 with the initial feeling that they would survive the 76ers’ failure to win the series after seizing a 3-2 series lead with a Game 5 win at TD Garden. That was Monday. By Tuesday morning, Rivers had been fired,” Stein wrote on his Substack on May 20.
That turned out to not be the case. Though Rivers couldn’t help the Sixers advance past the second round, their 3-2 lead over the Celtics was the first time they had possessed such a lead in the Joel Embiid era.