NBA coaches comprise a fraternity. Many coaches like each other after years of working in the same field. Even the ones who dislike each other share an understanding of the responsibilities and pressures of this incredibly demanding job.
That’s why it’s incredibly rare for a coach to publically criticize one of his peers, even if the critique is mild.
But Doc Rivers is so loyal to Paul Pierce, the Clippers coach crossed that line and second-guessed Nets coach Jason Kidd.
Rivers predicted that Pierce will play “another three years,” despite his early struggles.
“He can score anywhere,” Rivers said. “I think he was more uncomfortable with the short minutes that they were (playing him), like they did with Kevin. And that’s not Paul. Paul doesn’t work under those type of minutes—at least, in my opinion he doesn’t. He’s a guy that needs a rhythm to play. In Kevin’s case, on a 20-minute restriction, of course his numbers are going to be down. So I think at some point, he probably is going to have to play more minutes to improve, so he can get a better rhythm himself.”
All these months later, and Rivers is still Pierce and Garnett’s most passionate defender, his respect and affection coming through in every observation.
You can see how strange this was, because Rivers immediately offered the “at least, in my opinion” caveat.
Obviously, Rivers’ primary reason for speaking out was his fondness for Pierce. But I wonder whether another factor, consciously or subconsciously, affected Rivers. Lawrence Frank, publically humiliated by Kidd, was previously an assistant on Rivers’ staff. Does Rivers harbor any resentment toward Kidd for Frank was handled?
Regardless of Rivers’ motivation, the numbers don’t support his case. In five games Pierce has played fewer than 30 minutes – excluding the Houston game, when Pierce left with a broken hand – he’s scoring more points per minute and on a higher field-goal percentage than in the eight games he played at least 30 minutes.
Kidd gets a lot of flack, most of it deserved, but I think this is one shot than doesn’t land.