The Clippers' coach and president of basketball operations had a key mission this off-season: re-sign DeAndre Jordan. When L.A.'s center wavered on his verbal deal with the Mavericks, Doc made a house call.
DAN PATRICK:You guys have added a lot of players. It's been busy.
DOC RIVERS:It's really killing my golf game.
DP:When you're playing golf, do you turn your phone off?
DP:Have you ever kept it on?
DR: Yeah, I've done that before for sure.
DP:Did you keep it on during the DeAndre Jordan situation?
DR: I was not golfing. It's tough to golf when you're inside a guy's house with the chair against the door.
DP:Summarize how that all went down.
DR: It was kind of comical, with the emoji war and then with [Mavericks forward] Chandler Parsons and [Clippers guard] J.J. Redick going back and forth. That's what made it look so strange. But the bottom line is, it started out with DJ's agent [Dan Fegan] informing us that he was going somewhere else. Obviously when you're a coach and you have a relationship with a player.... That rocked me. You look at that decision and you can't understand why. Then I started getting word that DJ was having second thoughts. He and I finally connected, and he said, "I want to come back. I just want to sit down with everybody and talk it out." When we got there [to Jordan's home in Houston], the decision had been made that he wanted to come back. We had a great team talk. Other coaches said I created the greatest team-building exercise in the middle of the summer they've ever seen.
DP:That is true.
DR: I don't think people understand how hard it was with the way we lost [to the Rockets in the playoffs, blowing a 3--1 lead in the series]. From a coaching standpoint I was thinking it would take through training camp to exorcise those demons. The fact that we could go through it now and talk about it allows us to move forward.
DP:At any point did you think Jordan was gone?
DR: Right when his agent told me. For 24 hours I thought we had lost DJ, and it was a bad feeling. But when I started hearing he was thinking about coming back, I was very confident that he would. He's never been recruited in his life. All that stuff [they tell you during recruitment] sounds great—the smoke and mirrors, how they're going to play you. When he started thinking about it, he looked at our team and thought, "My goodness, I'm in a great place. Why would I ever give that up?" It was substance. I hate saying come back because he never left. O.K., I sound like John Calipari trying to sell something [laughs].
U.S. women's national team forward Abby Wambach admitted she isn't easy to be around during a match. "People have actually moved away from me on the bench," Wambach said. "I am kind of an obnoxious person. Have you ever seen me play soccer? I'm obnoxious on the field [as well]." ... Hall of Famer Johnny Bench said the reception Pete Rose got at the All-Star Game is consolation for not getting into Cooperstown: "If you're a Hall of Famer in all these fans' minds, that goes a long way for him." ... Even as he gets set for his HOF induction, John Smoltz told me that he ranks behind Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as a pitcher. "They were the true professional pitchers, the guys who could carve up a lineup," Smoltz said. "They're the best I've ever seen at making people look stupid."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
DAVID LIAM KYLE/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (RIVERS)
JASON MERRITT/GETTY IMAGES (WAMBACH)
ELSA/GETTY IMAGES (BENCH)
ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES FOR MICHAEL JORDAN CELEBRITY INVITATIONAL (SMOLTZ)