The Clippers have always been second fiddle to the L.A. Lakers, and for the better part of their franchise’s history, they’ve been mainly irrelevant and the butt of jokes for years. They didn’t make many power moves in the NBA before the arrival of Doc Rivers as coach on June 25, 2013, and the future Hall of Fame coach’s belief is that his signing made the Los Angeles Clippers a “favorable destination”.
Rivers, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, opened up about his time with the Clippers, and how he felt about the franchise and what he did there, and what he means to them.
“Listen, I was with this organization for [seven] years,” Rivers said on Wednesday. “But a lot happened in that [seven] years. I left [the organization] a place of destination.” That was his first take on the Clippers and his relationship, and he took a trip to the past and the Clippers’ state as a franchise when he took over the reins in 2013. “We were the laughingstock,” he said. “No one wanted to play for the Clippers. We heard all of that. If there’s a free-agent war versus the Lakers, don’t try.” Rivers finished.
Rivers holds a lot of credit for successfully rebuilding and rebranding that Clippers franchise, and with his stature as one of the greatest coaches in all of basketball, he definitely came in with the respect of the team’s superstar talent such as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Chauncey Billups. He also was instrumental in the acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George.
Doc’s 1307 career wins is good for 10th all time. He’s a championship-winning coach, having won his only coaching championship with Boston in 2008. He was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2000 and is a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary 15 Greatest Coaches in NBA History. He’s a highly decorated coach and can turn any team he is leading into a contender, which is exactly what he did in Los Angeles.
What Doc Rivers did with those Clippers teams in the 2010s was incredible, and they are one of the most iconic teams assembled.
The “Lob City” Clippers were one of the most captivating teams to never capture that elusive championship. They were a high-flying act, with tons of amazing offense that mainly centered on forward Blake Griffin and center Deandre Jordan, who both lived above the rim. The entire operation was orchestrated by CP3, who remains one of the greatest floor generals to play the game.
This was a modern-day showtime in L.A., but it was finally the Clippers making the jaw-dropping plays with immaculate use of the alley-oop play. With CP3 as the leader of the team, these Clippers were always contenders and were always a threat to go to the Finals every year, but ill-timed injuries were always an impediment. The championship window closed when they eventually started running into Durant’s OKC Thunder. The Clippers were also victims of the early Warriors dynasty.
Unfortunately, the Clippers could never reach the top of the NBA, and Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets in 2017, while Blake Griffin was eventually traded to the Detroit Pistons in 2018, ending the Lob City era.
Doc Rivers’ time in Los Angeles was fruitful, and he definitely did the landscape work for the Clippers to be a premiere destination now. The Clippers also have their own arena on deck and have been neck and neck with the Lakers since LeBron’s arrival.
Rivers has moved on to another team featuring several stars and hopes to lead the Philadelphia 76 ers to the NBA title. His time in L.A. will be remembered as iconic, and he will eventually get his flowers for his contributions to the Clippers brand.
After all, Doc might sound a bit cocky, but he definitely made it cool to be a Clippers fan.