Boston's Rivers gives Del Negro a vote of confidence


Dec 12

By Adam Fluck

Boston Head Coach Doc Rivers knows a thing or two about being on the hot seat. His Celtics won less than 30 percent of their games in 2006-07, finishing with a lowly mark of 24-58. After his third with the team, critics were loud and clear in calling for his job.

Now in his sixth season with the Celtics, how was it that Rivers orchestrated such a remarkable turnaround? Enter the veteran additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen the following offseason, of course. A record of 66-16 followed, as did an NBA Championship, and Rivers was suddenly a genius again.

“I’ve been there. I know how it feels,” said Rivers of Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro’s current situation. “When you don’t win, you get criticism. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is and the younger you are as a coach, the more [criticism there] is if you don’t win. If it was a veteran coach, he’d probably get a grace period. Unfortunately, Vinny’s not getting that. He should, but he’s not. He’ll weather the storm hopefully.”

River’s advice to Del Negro—or any coach on the hot seat for that matter—was simple.

“You do your job, and that’s all you can do,” remarked Rivers, who added that Gregg Popovich and Larry Brown were other examples of other coaches who turned teams around in their time. “You can’t let it sway you. Whether people like it or not, at the end of the day if you know you’re doing is what’s right, it’ll pan out for you.”

Rivers expressed confidence in Del Negro and hoped that his tenure in Chicago will continue.

“I believe this will work out for him,” he said. “I coached against him last year in the playoffs and I hope he gets the chance to do it.”

While Rivers’ Celtics are well on their way to a third straight 60+ win season with a record of 18-4, the Bulls have come out of the gates with an 8-13 record despite starting the season 6-4. In other words, a far cry from the team many expected to see following last season’s epic battle between the two clubs in the postseason.

So, Doc, what’s up with the Bulls?

“I think their biggest thing is injury,” Rivers said of the difference, coupled with the loss of Ben Gordon. “When you start the season out with the injuries they’ve had, plus having a guy that didn’t play last year in [Luol] Deng back, you’re probably going to start out slow. It’s almost expected when your point guard (Derrick Rose) is injured and [Kirk] Hinrich was injured. When your one, two and three could have some kind of injury to start the season, you’re going to struggle a little bit. I wouldn’t panic about it, I would say that.”

Audio—Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, going up against a talented Boston team, and the banged up Bulls (12.12.09):

Audio—Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers on this season’s Bulls team, the Celtics’ sense of urgency to win another title, and University of Kentucky guard John Wall (12.12.09):

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