The defending champs were 42--11 at week's end
Dan Patrick: How often do you consult Terry Francona and Bill Belichick?
Doc Rivers: A lot. I talk to Terry more. They're great sounding boards, having gone through anything a coach can go through. We have a pretty good fraternity here.
DP: When is Stephon Marbury suiting up for you guys?
DR: I haven't asked [G.M. Danny Ainge] about that in over a week. I don't know if that's going to happen.
DP: Is this Danny's call?
DR: Danny wouldn't do it without me. We've talked about it a lot, because I'm a big believer in the locker room, like Belichick.
DP: Do you look at how he handled Randy Moss when you think about how you might have to handle Marbury?
DR: It's a little different, because there are so many more players in football. In our locker room there are 15 players, and one can really upset it, so I have to be more careful than in football.
DP: You have a son in high school. What's it like seeing him recruited?
DR: Austin, who's a sophomore, was being watched from eighth grade on. There are these stupid rankings that I can't stand, because I don't think it's healthy for a kid's ego when he's in seventh grade to be ranked Number 1. It's like I told Austin: There's a kid in your age group who hasn't picked up a ball yet who will be a terrific player, so don't get too full of yourself.
DP: Who talked more trash when you played—Jordan or Bird?
DR: Bird. I had 35 against him one night. It was early in the game, and I was making jump shots, which was obviously not what I usually did well. And he looks at me on the free throw line and says, "Hey, Rivers, we'll check back with you in the fourth quarter and see if you're still making these shots." Trash talking back then was good. It wasn't on camera. They'd say things running by you that no one saw, but it definitely stung. One time when he was a rookie, Jordan traveled, and they didn't call it. I think the ref was Dick Bavetta. I said, "I didn't get that call when I was a rookie." Jordan looked at me and said, "You wasn't that good."
Like Shooting Fish in Your Bathtub
TONY STEWART is in a great spot: As the co-owner of Stewart Haas Racing, he's his own boss. The downside is, he faces the prospect of getting fined twice—once as a driver, once as an owner—if he gets into trouble. (I've set the over/under for Smoke's 2009 fines at 50 grand.) In his rare downtime Stewart oversees the building of a huge cabin, which he calls Log Mahal, outside his hometown of Columbus, Ind. It was rumored that Stewart was going to build a moat with a drawbridge to keep it secure, but he told me that isn't true. It will, however, have a fully stocked 10- by 30-foot fishing pond. Inside the house. Nothing like a fresh catch for dinner every night.
'To Talk Smack, Press 2'
HAD A nice chat with Lamar Odom last Friday, after the Lakers beat the Celtics and before Odom went off on the Cavs. Our conversation was briefly interrupted when the phone in Odom's hotel room started ringing. Odom, who said he rarely checks in under an assumed name, was happy to just let it ring. "Who knows who it is?," he said. "We're in Boston. It's probably just someone telling me that I suck."
WHEN SI asked 190 NBA players to name the best shooter they've ever seen, Jason Kapono finished fourth with 9.6% of the vote—just one vote fewer than Larry Bird (SI, Jan. 26). The Raptors' sharpshooter came on the show to defend his position on the list. Kapono said he'd take on any shooter, and he likes his chances in the NBA's three-point shootout this Saturday. He did concede, however, that he'll never be much of a threat in another All-Star weekend competition: the slam-dunk contest. "I would ask for a trampoline or I'd turn it into a freak-show layup contest," he said. "I might even tap the backboard or close my eyes." Why? The 6'8" Kapono, who is in his sixth season in the league, has as many NBA dunks as I do: zero.
THE FINE PRINT: Kellogg's dropped Michael Phelps as a spokesman. And they gave Tony the Tiger 30 days to get off HGH.
Go to DANPATRICK.COM for more from Doc Rivers and other recent interviews, and to hear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9-noon ET, Mon.-Fri.
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER
MARK J. REBILAS/US PRESSWIRE (STEWART)
LISA BLUMENFELD/GETTY IMAGES (ODOM)
JOHN BIEVER (KAPONO)
ELSA/GETTY IMAGES (RIVERS)