Burke: Criticism of Doc Rivers in Boston is largely unfair

Doc Rivers has taken some heat recently for his wishy-washy responses on whether he would return to the Celtics for a 10th season. (Getty Images)
Doc Rivers has taken some heat recently for his wishy-washy responses on whether he would return to the Celtics for a 10th season. (Getty Images)

So, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers may or may not leave the team he has coached since April of 2004.

It’s been a long journey to respectability here and across the NBA landscape for Rivers, once considered a horrible in-game coach by most in the early and mid-2000s, before he received some future Hall of Fame help. Today, Rivers is the gold standard of coaching in the league. He commands respect from all and gets it 99.9 percent of the time. Part of the train of thought with him signing a contract extension two years ago was that his presence alone could bring free agents to Boston. Although Jason Terry hasn’t exactly worked out, he was a big-name free agent at the time and Rivers’ presence on the C’s bench was a huge reason why he landed here. Young guys in the league, no longer wearing Celtics green like Al Jefferson and Tony Allen, swear by Doc and word spreads quickly in the NBA.

In a 2012 Sports Illustrated poll, Rivers was voted No. 1 by NBA players as the coach they would most like to play for. So while the Celtics look like they are headed back into lottery-land before they flirt with the Larry O’Brien trophy again, Boston will remain one of the league’s more respected franchises as long as Rivers is on the bench.

 Recently, C’s fans have been calling 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI and the majority of talk show hosts on both of those stations have actually agreed with their callers that Rivers needs to poop or get off the pot, so to speak, when it comes to making a decision of whether or not to return. This, while the NBA calendar has yet to even turn to the 2013-14 season with the NBA Finals still going on and with the draft still weeks away. Is it really a crime that Rivers hasn’t flat out said that he’s returning for his 10th season?

All the great coaches in sports get to a point where they should be allowed to decompress for a month, if not three. Bill Parcells was wishy-washy on returning for nearly every single one of his 19 seasons as an NFL head coach. Phil Jackson held the Lakers hostage for about a decade. Red Auerbach nearly left the Celtics to coach the Knicks at one point. And then there’s our own Bill Belichick. The guy hasn’t discussed his contract situation since 2007 and even then it was as vague as that Tim Tebow “press conference” the other day.

Once a great coach has enough clout with a team and a city, he can decide things on his own terms. Rivers has certainly earned it in his near decade here and definitely deserves better.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…