After losing in seven games to the Lakers in the NBA Finals, the former Marquette point guard returns for his seventh season on the Boston bench
Dan Patrick:Are there coaches out there who don't like each other?
Doc Rivers: Oh, yeah. Sure. Definitely.
DP:Who don't you like?
DR: I'm a lover. I love everyone. You know that.
DP:O.K. Who may not like you?
DR: Probably everyone who's met me!
DP:Why does the dislike go so deep between Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy.
DR: Probably the whole Miami situation when Stan was there—Stan and Jeff. People forget the history of Riles and Jeff from the days when they were with the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. So there's a family history. It's family, Dan.
DP:Speaking of family, your son Austin has committed to Duke. Did Coach K have to recruit you, as well as your son?
DR: No, not really. I know Coach K, and I knew Roy Williams and Bill Self and Billy Donovan, so it was almost an uncomfortable... . It was not uncomfortable—it was different, when they come into your house and they're selling their program. I go on a golf trip every year with Roy Williams, and he comes into my house with a suit and tie on. And I'm laughing! It was pretty interesting to watch, to actually watch guys you know do their job. So it was different. I'll put it that way.
DP:What did Austin say your role was going to be when they came to the house?
DR:Be quiet! No, you know what we did? We had dinner with each guy, each coach and his assistants. And we'd just sit around the table and talk basketball and every other thing. And I thought it gave Austin a chance to see every coach as a human being, because I don't know if we're viewed as that when we're coaching.
DP:Will you still be the coach of the Celtics when your son graduates from Duke?
DR: I don't know that. That's a good question. Danny [Ainge, the Celtics G.M.] and I have decided to just go year by year for a while, and at some point I'm going to have to make a decision. For me there's always a couple things that are tugging. It's not like I want to retire, and I'm not going to retire. I may step away for a year at some point and come back. I just always want to make sure I'm doing the right thing by my family.
DP:If you were still a broadcaster, where would you pinpoint any problems with the Heat?
DR: I really can't. And you can see what Pat's already doing with them, and that's getting them to buy into playing defense. That's going to be the key. We did this three years ago, though not to this level. We didn't have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade together.
DP:Which O'Neal do you think is going to have a bigger impact for you this year?
DR: I don't know—both, I hope. Right now it'll be Shaq, because Jermaine is injured. And Shaq has played great. He's been fantastic so far, but everybody's fantastic right now. You'll hear every coach say that. It's when the season starts, and the roles are more defined and the minutes are divvied out. That's when every team has its problems, and I'm sure we'll have ours, too.
• Short Listed
The Patriots list Danny Woodhead at 5'9", but the best running back ever to come out of Division II Chadron (Neb.) State came clean with us: "Honestly, I'm a shade under 5'8". It's like 5'7¾" or something. And when you're a smaller guy, those three fourths, they're crucial." He also dispelled the notion that his lack of height provides him with any sort of advantage. "People have said it's tough to see me," he said. "I don't know if it's tough to see me. I don't see them."
• Ice Man
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan picked up the nickname Matty Ice for the way he responds to pressure. So it was surprising to hear him discuss what he feels is the most improved part of his game as a pro: "How I respond to adverse situations. You're going to make mistakes throughout a game, but it's how you respond to those things [that's important]. I think I do a lot better job of that in Year 3 than I did in Year 1."
• Line of the week
Actor and diehard Yankees fan Kevin Connolly, on how he felt after Boston beat New York in the 2004 ALCS.
"Can you shut up now? I was happy when the Red Sox won, because I was just so sick of hearing them [gripe about losing]."
THE FINE PRINT: The Yankees swept the Twins in the ALDS, which means Carl Pavano has to return his mustache to John Stossel.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. The Panther's Maurice Jones-Drew talks fantasy football.
2. 'Bama QB Greg McElroy dishes on the SEC.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (RIVERS)
ELSA/GETTY IMAGES (WOODHEAD)
MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS (CONNOLLY)