Doc: Hate seeing rift in 2008 Celtics title team
BOSTON — Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it bothers him that his 2008 title-winning team remains fractured and that he wishes his players would get past their differences, particularly as Ray Allen prepares for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.
Allen’s relationship with his former teammates has been icy ever since he defected to the rival Miami Heat during the summer of 2012. And it doesn’t appear ready to thaw any time soon.
“As years have gone on, things have been fractured, and I hate it. I hate seeing it,” Rivers said Tuesday while in Boston for the annual ABCD Hoop Dreams fundraiser that he runs with current Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “I would love this [to be a] celebration for Ray. Not a lot to say here about it. Ray won us a title. He really did.
“I think he should be celebrated. I think he should be celebrated in Boston. He’s responsible for that banner. If I had one wish, I wish I could do a better job of getting that group back together. I can get a lot of them back together; I just can’t get the whole group. They really should be because they were so close, and it really hurts me to see what’s going on.”
Allen and Paul Pierce talked last summer, but it did little to ease tensions that have lingered between Allen and former teammates Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. Allen didn’t help matters when he did not show up for Pierce’s jersey retirement in Boston in February, an event that Garnett, Rondo and Rivers attended together.
Allen told The Athletic this week that he does not expect to get congratulatory messages on his induction from many of his former Boston teammates.
Rivers isn’t certain he’ll ever get Allen and Rondo to mend fences.
“I’ve tried, I can tell you that,” Rivers said. “It’s a lot of little things. Here’s the thing: You have two Hall of Fame guys as far as their competitiveness. The reason that Ray was who he is, Rondo was who he is, Kevin, Paul — I think Paul has done the right thing as far as throwing out the olive branch. [But] it’s also why we were really good is why they don’t get along: very stubborn, very tough, very competitive and no one wants to give in.
“The phrase I used to use a thousand times in arguments with the team: ‘It’s about getting it right, not who is right.’ I hope we can get that right because they are all probably right in whatever they are saying in some way or form, but they need to get it right and get together.”
Rivers, now head coach of the LA Clippers, beamed with pride while talking about how Boston’s 2008 team sacrificed egos in order to win a title after the Big Three of Pierce, Allen and Garnett was assembled during the summer of 2007. And Rivers believes that desire to win together made those Celtics one of the best teams in NBA history.
“That team, the 2008 group, was as close of a group as you could ever coach,” Rivers said. “Everyone bought into their roles. It wasn’t a perfect group all the time. We had our arguments and our differences, and that’s fine.
“On the floor, I’d take that group every night to go to war. If I had one game to win for my life, I’m taking that 2008 group and we’re going to go to war, because you know they were going to show up and do it together.”