Doc Rivers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

With Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverly and the Los Angeles Clippers in town to face the Bulls, you knew the question was coming. Both Rivers and Beverly are from Chicago and not shy about their affection for the city. 

"Do you and Pat talk about coming to Chicago?" a reporter asked, during Rivers' pregame media scrum, Saturday night.

"We talk about Chicago, probably every single day," Rivers said with a hint of a smile. "We talk about the Bears the most."

That led to Rivers rapid-fire addressing a number of ruminations on the current state of the Bears, including his respect for head coach Matt Nagy.

"I’m a big Bears fan. A big Nagy fan. I think he’s a terrific coach," Rivers said. "I just do, every once in a while you get a feeling about someone, and I have that about him."

High praise coming from Rivers, the 13th-winningest coach in NBA history and an NBA Finals champion in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.

Now, he coaches the third-winningest team in the league in the Clippers, but he still finds time to keep up with current Chicago affairs.

"[Beverly and I] talk about everything with Chicago. We talk about the dominance of Proviso East [Rivers' high school alma mater] over Marshall [Beverly's alma mater], and every other team. He doesn’t like that conversation very much," Rivers said.

He added that he even contemplated driving down for the Bears' Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football (the Clippers were in town for a game with Milwaukee that Friday).

And as for tomorrow's crucial division game against the Packers, Rivers made his position abundantly clear.

"Well, you know what I think," Rivers said, when asked for a prediction for the contest. "Are you kidding me?"

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Doc Rivers says Chicago is the Mecca of basketball

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USA TODAY

Doc Rivers says Chicago is the Mecca of basketball

With Anthony Davis’ Lakers in town to take on the Bulls on Tuesday, he was asked the typical Chicago-related questions.

He gave a vague answer regarding free agency and if he would sign with the Bulls. He also said Chicago is the Mecca of basketball. Davis has said this before.

Now another notable NBA figure went on record agreeing with Davis. Clippers coach Doc Rivers emphatically said Chicago is the Mecca of basketball.

“Yeah, he’s right,” Rivers said when asked about Davis’ comment. “It’s not even a question. No, I really believe that.”

Like Davis, Rivers is a Chicago product so of course there’s some bias involved. Rivers was a high school all-American at suburban Proviso East around the time of Isiah Thomas and other Chicago basketball legends.

“The Mecca of basketball is absolutely Chicago players,” Rivers said. “New York gets all the rub, which I don’t get, but Chicago, it’s not even close. It’s not close.”

Davis kicked off a stretch where three Chicago products were top three NBA draft picks in a four-year period. Davis was the top pick in 2012, Jabari Parker went No. 2 in 2014 and Jahlil Okafor was picked third in 2015. Throw in other current NBA players Derrick Rose, Patrick Beverley and standout rookie Kendrick Nunn and the argument starts to make sense.

“You play against everybody,” Rivers said. “I mean, how many kids can say, unless you grew up in Chicago, you can have a pickup game out on the park with Isiah Thomas, Terry Cummings, Maurice Cheeks, Mark Aguirre, Darrell Walker. There’s not a lot of pickup games like that in your same grade. That’s every year. That’s called Chicago basketball.”

Rivers is sure to get some bonus points from his Chicago friends for this stance.

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Report: Zach LaVine proposed to pay Jim Boylen's league fine from Friday night

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USA TODAY

Report: Zach LaVine proposed to pay Jim Boylen's league fine from Friday night

In an event that certainly shows just how much the relationship between Zach LaVine and Bulls head coach Jim Boylen has developed, Malika Andrews of ESPN reported that LaVine reached out to the Bulls front office and proposed that he pay the fines for the ejection he received on Friday night in Los Angeles.

Boylen received the ejection after he got into a verbal spat with Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. Boylen was sticking up for his players, after feeling that the screens being set by uber-physical LA forward Montrezl Harrell were dirty plays. Rivers disagreed wholeheartedly, and reportedly told Boylen to tell his players to call out screens better on defense.

This is an awesome development for an extremely young and inexperienced Bulls roster that is trying to build a positive, long-lasting team culture.

LaVine and Boylen were always going to need to see eye-to-eye for the Bulls rebuild to be successful. The former received a 4-year, $78 million commitment that effectively made him the franchise player and the latter recently got a pay raise that put him in line with standard NBA head coach salaries, indicating he will be around for awhile (despite the rumors that do exist).

The LaVine-Boylen dynamic has come a long, long way in a short amount of time. Remember, when the reported “mutiny” almost went down back in December, LaVine was NOT mentioned as one of the players who pushed back against the idea of not showing up to practice.

But there was refuting claims of what went down that day, with Bulls President of Basketball Ops John Paxson pushing back against the idea that the Bulls players reached out to the NBA Players Association.

Either way, it was clear that the relationship between the players and Boylen was in a tumultuous place following Fred Hoiberg’s sudden, if not shocking, firing. But LaVine and Boylen have both shown that they are hard-working, intensely competitive personalities and Boylen’s capacity to stick up for his guys has definitely impressed LaVine.

The 2019 NBA Draft (and free agency) will be massively important for the Bulls rebuild. But Bulls Nation should be in good spirits, as nothing is more important than LaVine and Boylen having a great relationship, as it enables the franchise to truly take the next step towards being an Eastern Conference contender.