Doc Rivers talks ACL’s and MJ before Bulls/Celts


Feb 13

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

Just about everyone in America, it seems, has a torn ACL. Well, a lot of guards in the NBA. Derrick Rose, obviously, for the Bulls, and now Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa for the Celtics.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers before Wednesday’s game was talking about the NBA guards’ greatest fear these days—Iman Shumpert, Ricky Rubio and Eric Maynor also in the last year—and joked that the NFL Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson is the worst example for the NBA.

“No, I want him to rush it,” Rivers joked about Rondo returning. “I want him to be exactly like Adrian Peterson. That doesn’t mean you’re going to make it back, but I think it’s a good thing, a good goal to have. I think Adrian Peterson has probably messed everyone’s minds up. Everyone thinks you’re going to come back and be Adrian Peterson.

“First of all,” added Rivers, “it’s a different game and I know football. There’s hitting and cutting, but you’re running on a hardwood floor (in the NBA) and every step you make is a cut in basketball, so I think you have to be very careful in that. I think in basketball guys come back. But I think it takes a little longer to feel comfortable. I do think guys are far advanced. I’ve seen Rose run up and down the floor, but I just think it’s different and I think you have to be very careful.

“For me, it was mental, but the physical part,” said Rivers, whose serious knee injury in 1993 may have cost the Knicks the 1994 title and led to the end of Rivers’ career. “I always looked at it when I did the rehab, was what it was. The only way you’re going to come back is to go through physical pain. But the mental part, for me, was hard and I didn’t anticipate that. I remember (Pat) Riley bringing me in and showing me clips of me landing when I first came back. I was landing on one leg. I wouldn’t land on both feet because that’s how I got injured. I didn’t know I was doing that. That was subconscious.”

Rivers was asked why this injury has become almost epidemic of late, especially to guards in non-contact situations.

“That’s a good question. I don’t know that,” Rivers said. “We do more cutting. We also are off our feet more. (John) Stockton, who missed what, one game (22 in his career), I remember talking to him after his career and I told him, ‘Man you had one hell of a career without getting injured,’ and he was a physical player, and he said, ‘I made a conscious choice not to leave my feet.’ He said his rookie year he sprained his ankle because he tried to jump high. He said, ‘I made a conscious effort from that point on of wanting to play below the rim. I wanted to be a horizontal player instead of a vertical player.’ I think a lot of those guys who are getting injured are explosive jumpers, but it’s definitely more guards and I don’t know why.

“There’s all [kinds of] theories about that,” Rivers said. “The strength and conditioning and all that. Your body can only have so much weight. I don’t know the reason. I really don’t, but it’s something that needs to be discussed amongst the teams and find out if we’re doing something wrong.

Rivers, who in addition to being one of the league’s top coaching minds, also is probably the most popular coaches among media members for his story telling and upbeat public posture. He was asked to reminisce a bit about Michael Jordan at 50.

“I have a lot of nightmares, some good ones,” Rivers laughed. “I remember his sister singing the national anthem and (John) Starks laughing, and then I had to go guard him (with New York). That wasn’t very nice of John Starks. The thing that I love about him or remember the most about him was a halftime speech at the (1988) All-Star Game. I think (Charles) Barkley was laughing, a couple guys were joking around and he basically informed us that we were going to win the game and whoever didn’t feel like playing that way should not play in the second half and I actually liked that. I wish they all were like that, All-Star Games.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below: