The Philadelphia 76ers knocked off the New York Knicks on Saturday night 109-89 and in a normal circumstance, this would be just a ho-hum win in December. However, 2020 has been anything but a ho-hum time.
In this current instance, it was a milestone win for coach Doc Rivers who earned his 945th career victory as a head coach in his 22nd season. The win passed Bill Fitch for 10th place all-time in NBA history.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Rivers after the win. “It’s not why I coach, but it’s an honor, and it tells you that I’ve had a lot of success. It also says I’ve had a lot of good players, and a lot of great coaches around me as well.”
Rivers has coached the likes of Paul Pierce, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Kawhi Leonard in the past and is now coaching two young talents in Philadelphia. To his point, he has had a ton of talent in his career.
Just two regular-season games into his Sixers tenure, he has made an impact on the young star duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
“The one thing for me, he believes in us,” said Simmons. “He believes in everybody’s ability, he’s not gonna lie to you, and tell you things you can’t do. For me, he tells me certain things like tonight, he told me to start being aggressive attacking the rim. When I’m doing that knowing he’s giving that praise, letting me do a good job, that just gives me more confidence to keep doing it again to make plays for my teammates.”
With a resume like the one Rivers has, it demands respect and that is why he has the attention of his team.
“He’s vocal,” said Embiid. “When he speaks, everybody listens. He’s just a good coach, even when it comes to X’s and O’s. The plays that have been drawn, we took a little bit of stuff from last year, but the stuff that has been drawn out of timeouts has been working so far. He’s been great.”
It is due to that respect that Rivers has for his players that he is able to keep it real with his guys no matter what. He can constructively criticize his guys and they won’t bristle at it. They take it in stride and work on what needs to improve.
“He’s going to keep it real with you,” Simmons added. “If there’s things that you need to work on, things that he’ll see out there that you might not see, he’ll let you know. That’s all about just helping help each other get better. He’s doing that with everybody, which is great.”
Rivers will look to add to his win total on Sunday as the Sixers move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road.
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