Fathers playing ball with their sons is as old as sports itself, and many great athletes have passed on their love of the game to a child coming behind.
Doc Rivers was certainly the proud dad on NBA Draft night this year, hugging his son, Austin, after he was picked by the New Orleans Hornets. Austin’s dream has long been to play in the NBA (as his father also did), and Doc was effusive as he praised his son for reaching his goal.
But on Wednesday night, that’s all going to change. The Hornets are at last playing the Celtics, meaning Austin Rivers is going to go from son to opponent.
It’s not a prospect Doc Rivers is relishing.
“I’m actually not [looking forward to it],” Rivers said, according to ESPN. “I mean, I don’t even know what I’m looking forward to. You know, it’s not like he’s playing a ton anyway, but, you never know. But, as far as him and being out on the floor, that’s just a different feeling. I still don’t know how to feel about it.
“I’ve always thought he had a shot of being in the league, but I never thought about coaching against him. You don’t ever think about that part. Then when he gets drafted you think, ‘Wow, I’m going to go up against my son.’ Not literally, I’ll be in a suit and tie, so I can’t do anything. But, again, it’s just something — I’ll be glad when the game’s over. I can put it that way.”
He may not be the only member of the Rivers family who’s glad when it’s done. Several Celtics may be gunning for the young Hornet come game time.
“I don’t care if he’s Doc’s kid,” Jeff Green said, according to ESPN.
Paul Pierce was thinking the same thing.
“He was out to get me when he was a high school player, so I’m ready for him,” he said.
Even Doc Rivers admitted that he may be putting his best defender, Avery Bradley, on his kid for some time Wednesday.
“Oh, absolutely,” Rivers said of Bradley guarding Austin Rivers. “There’s no doubt about that.”
The Hornets and Celtics may not create any new warm fuzzies on Wednesday, but it sounds like the game will at least be entertaining — no matter who gets the upper hand, father or son.
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Austin Rivers photo via Facebook/Duke Men’s Basketball