Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/10/13
Doc Rivers loaded up a to-go box with food, grasped his rolling suitcase and strolled out of the visiting locker room. Earlier, the seventh game of this new journey with the Clippers had ended with Rivers' new team poking its head above .500. As the Clippers were pulling away from the Rockets in the second half on Saturday night, Rivers' old team was pulling off some magic of its own. Jeff Green had caught a crosscourt pass in the corner and drilled a winning 3-pointer as Brad Stevens' Celtics beat the Heat by one point in Miami -- with a crafty inbounds play that looked an awful lot like the ones Rivers used to draw up there. "I saw that; that was great," Rivers said on his way out of the Toyota Center, a 107-94 victory over the Rockets behind him and a long journey ahead. "Brad's going to be good." So will Rivers. So, too, will the Clippers. "At the end of the year," Rivers said, "I hope we're going to be a hell of a basketball team." In another faraway arena, two of Rivers' Hall of Famers from the Celtics, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, had lost to the 7-0 Indiana Pacers in Brooklyn. Here was Rivers, the other point on the triangle forged from the Celtics' breakup, feeling his way through a new start of his own. The championship pedigree that Rivers brought from Boston to the Clippers hasn't exactly taken hold yet. The Clippers are 4-3. Their oldest starter is J.J. Redick, who is 29. They've shown an ability to score with frequency and devastation, yet by Rivers' own admission, play defense only occasionally. This is only the beginning, and Rivers didn't go to LA for the beginning. He went to the Clippers for what he hopes happens at the end. "If we can do this as a group, it'd be sensational," said Rivers, all alone now on the exit ramp of the arena -- on his way home after salvaging the last game of a 1-2 road trip. "I just want them to do it. I think we can." With Rivers, you don't have to wonder what "it" is. Even for the Clippers, a franchise that has been to the playoffs six times in 29 years since moving to Los Angeles in 1984 -- and has advanced beyond the first round only twice -- "it" is a championship. From his very first team meeting in a San Diego hotel on the eve of training camp, Rivers made that abundantly clear. "I'll never forget it," Jamal Crawford said. "The first meeting I told everybody, 'The only person who could've had a better speech than that is in Washington in the White House.' He's unbelievable. He had our antennas up. Every single player was sitting on the edge of his seat looking at him, hanging on every word he said." Rivers told the Clippers that night, before the first whistle had been blown in the first practice, that he believed in them. Coming from him, it meant everything. Being delivered to the Clippers, a franchise that for decades couldn't get out of its own way -- or out of the Lakers' shadow -- it meant even more. Those in LA who didn't know this yet might've been surprised to learn that Rivers isn't all talk. He's about action. And so it sent ripples across the NBA when Rivers demanded that larger-than-life portraits of Clippers players be draped over the Lakers' championship banners and retired jerseys in Staples Center, the arena the two LA teams share. To those who know Rivers, this might have been the least surprising thing he's ever done.
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