Rivers brings instant credibility to NBA's social justice coalition

Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Image

As head coach of the Sixers, the primary job is to win basketball games. Although, much like the role of a teacher or parent, the position comes with many responsibilities beyond the title it carries. There are details and idiosyncrasies that make coaches better or worse at their job. People excel or fail at one facet or another. Everyone is different.

For Doc Rivers, it’s clear he takes his job as a head coach very seriously. But, for him, it’s clear that winning basketball games is just a piece of the pie. 

It’s about family, both small and large. Immediate loved ones along with the larger basketball community. Listen to him talk, it’s all there in plain sight.

He’s coached with and against his son, Austin, with mild success and great emotional heights. The 59-year-old is now coaching his son-in-law, Seth Curry. I imagine the coaching would still be happening for Austin and Seth, whether they were playing for Doc’s team or not. Rivers’ sage advice doesn’t stop on the ball court, I surmise.

Look no further than the latest league initiative with his name attached. Rivers is one of two coaches serving as inaugural members of the NBA and National Basketball Players Association's joint program, the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition.

Former Sixers assistant coach and current Hawks front man Lloyd Pierce is the other coach involved to go with five players and five NBA executives.

Social justice, equality, voting access and criminal justice system reform are a few of the areas the group will target.


NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Director Michele Roberts, along with other NBA higher-ups, will also serve on the coalition’s board.

In my eyes, Rivers serves a very interesting role as part of the coalition. He’s the only member who's played and coached in the NBA. He has seen the disparities players and the league hope to mend through multiple lenses. 

Rivers has either been playing on an NBA court or leading a bench as a head coach for almost 40 years. We’ve seen him speak profoundly following the Jacob Blake shooting when players refused to play, directly addressing the tension and pain Black people in general and the players specifically were feeling in the wake of the events. I honestly don’t think they could have had the coalition without him. He brings instant credibility to something which could be seen as just a gesture, a reaction to the times, rather than a motivated effort toward change.

It’s always smart to know the layers of people. Good or bad. It helps make a more informed opinion. Not many people are often laid bare with their warts and scabs showing quite like celebrities and athletes. Rivers walks the tightrope with class and has, for some time, given an example to emulate.

Vince Lombardi said that, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Rivers has still yet to deliver the wins which Sixers fans worldwide long for, but his character is a beacon of pride Sixers fans should already enjoy. 

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