Doc Rivers and the Clippers called it a day last week like sometime around midnight.
Less than seven days after he started Netflix’s new mini-series ‘The Playbook’ about ‘A Coaches Rules For Life’.
Talk about a limited series.
Talk about bad timing.
This was like those thinking the NBA had this years’ Western Conference Finals Hollywood scripted with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. Or better yet those thinking about a storied Lakers/Celtics rematch in the Finals for history posterity.
What do these two teams have in common? They were both coached by Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers.
What else do they have in common with Coach? They both ain’t doing anything right now.
Still, should that matter?
“Everytime I walk in the locker-room for the first-time, I tell my players every year and I’ve told them for 21 years. I’m Doc Rivers and I’m human and I’m going to make mistakes.”
Now how’s that for a poignant philosophy?
Playbook or pink slip, Doc Rivers is one of the greatest coaches of all-time. He led the big-three of the Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce Boston Celtics to the storied spotlight banner of another raised championship. All to the puff of a cigar Red Auerbach handed down. From the Atlanta Hawks to the San Antonio Spurs, like his son Austin, Rivers was a pretty decent ball player too.
Yet, in the first part of the streaming service series executive produced by HBO, ‘The Shop’s’ own LeBron James and his right-hand man, Maverick Carter, it’s all about X’s and O’s like seconds left on the clock. Rivers runs deep through his history and his drawn-up play of a daily routine. From his morning coffee to crunches, he’s always in his car by 30 minutes.
This show looks at the Donald Sterling scandal (seriously the only Donald’s we mess with our Duck and Glover) and the protests players made in response that still resonate today in this Black Lives Matter movement. Doc Rivers is no stranger to this type of abuse, having his house burnt down by racists. Yet he’s always rebounded from any adversity and inspired those he’s coached to be even stronger in response.
With Doc looking right at us in this fourth wall break, the master of these four quarters will leave you with a scratch in your throat and not a dry eye as he details triumph and tragedy. You couldn’t get closer to this man right now with even a legendary Jamie Foxx impression of coach on Fallon (“IT’S NOT BLAKE’S FAULT. ITS NOT ON BLAKE!”).
Basketball bookends this series that also features soccer coaches (Jose Mourinho and Jill Ellis) and the racquet behind Serena Williams (Patrick Mouratoglou) perfectly. It has been a slam dunk of a year for Hoops on Netflix like the animated comedy of the same name and the Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls ESPN documentary ‘The Last Dance’ that saved us during quarantined lockdown. Yet this one really is a ‘High Flying Bird’. A coach and purists dream like the ‘Basketball Or Nothing’ series.
Putting the pieces all together like the jigsaw that starts the episode, it’s the last one with basketball legend Dawn Staley that really makes everything fit.
From the Philly projects to Team USA, Staley is a G.O.A.T. in this game like a Sue Bird, or Diana Taurasi. A Kobe or LeBron. From putting up shots to cutting down nylon, she Pee Wee Kirkland was a legend in two games too. Hooping and coaching. Whether, it’s hitting game winners or recruiting WNBA MVP’s and finalists to be like the Las Vegas Aces A’ja Wilson, this woman’s work is worth everything.
A real man just can’t deny.
Just like her five steps in this fifth and final episode like Rivers’ ‘Always Finish The Race’ and ‘Don’t Be A Victim’. Dawn’s read like a dusk to her first name dedication mantra. 1. Bring your own ball. 2. Growth takes place outside your comfort zone. 3. Create a home-court advantage. 4. The 24-hour rule (we all need to abide by this one). 5. What is delayed is not denied (as told by scripture, taken as gospel).
In a year of sports being put on hold, or in a Bubble like the joy of watching the NBA and the WNBA at the same time, Staley proves the fifth element of this last statement as such. She can’t be denied. Even in a Summer we were supposed to see the 2020 Olympics here in Japan, Dawn still has the gold. Like the medal in her trophy cabinet to prove it.
Now, let’s head back down stream.
Rivers reflects on being taken to school as a boy and being asked to write on the chalkboard what he wanted to be when he was older. Like drawing up a play he wrote, “professional basketball player”, which the teacher promptly erased for being “unrealistic” (HA!). She told him to come up and write something else.
“Professional basketball player”.
Right now you may think, Rivers was erased like the dismissal of just another tweet in this social media engaged age of the game, but it’s all about ‘The Process’ for a man who fielded calls from everyone from the problems of Houston to the swamp of New Orleans Pelicans.
Imagine what a Big Easy gig with Lonzo and Zion for the man who helped turn Blake and CP3 into ‘Lob City’ would have been like.
All that’s for the “what could have beens” however, as the Philadelphia 76ers say “what’s up Doc” to Rivers. Or should we say Glenn Rivers? Because Coach wants to go back to his government name, as when it comes to Philly, he says, “there’s only one Doc!”
Now. that’s what the city of brotherly love is all about.
Welcome back Coach. It’s been a long week.
Get ready for another season straight out of ‘The Playbook’.