Just hours after firing Adrian Griffin, the Milwaukee Bucks have hired Doc Rivers as their new head coach, as first reported by CNN Sports. Rivers brings a wealth of experience to the job, and will be hoping to deliver a championship to the city of Milwaukee.
NBA News: Bucks Hire Doc Rivers As Head Coach
Why the Bucks Hired Doc Rivers
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 24, 2024
The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Sam Amick, and Eric Nehm released their article shortly after the announcement of Griffin’s departure, explaining why he was let go. “[The decision] was borne out of months of underwhelming play, with internal concerns growing about the severe decline of their once-elite defense, the flawed use of newcomer Damian Lillard alongside franchise centerpiece Giannis Antetokounmpo and a widespread fear that this group, which was widely expected to contend for a title, was likely to fall short if they stood pat.”
Damian Lillard reportedly had a hard time adjusting to Milwaukee’s offensive scheme, per @TheAthletic
“Along the way, league sources say, Lillard has spent much of this season struggling with the way the Bucks function on the offensive end. While he had remained patient with… pic.twitter.com/9kUhta05BE
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 23, 2024
It is later revealed that Rivers had “began to serve as an informal assistant to Griffin at the behest of the Bucks” in May of 2023.
Doc Rivers as a Player
Before coaching, Rivers was a 13-year NBA player. He was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks in 1983. Rivers spent eight years in Atlanta, making the All-Star team in 1988. He would later have stints with the Los Angeles Clippers, the New York Knicks, and the San Antonio Spurs. He retired in 1996, with career averages of 10.9 points, 5.7 assists, and three rebounds per game.
Doc Rivers as a Coach
He began his coaching career in 1999, with the Orlando Magic. Rivers would win NBA Coach of the Year in his first season in Orlando, leading the team to a 9th place finish, when many expected them to finish last in the Eastern Conference. Orlando fired Rivers in 2003.
After a year spent in the broadcasting booth, Rivers returned to coaching in 2004, this time with the Boston Celtics. It was here that Rivers established himself as one of the most recognizable names in coaching history. In 2008, the Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals, defeating Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Boston reached the Finals once again in 2010. This time, however, Bryant’s Lakers were able to exact revenge.
In 2013, Rivers became one of the few NBA coaches throughout history to have been traded. Landing with the Los Angeles Clippers, Rivers wasted no time. In his first year, the Clippers won 57 games: a franchise record. Despite continued regular season success in Los Angeles, Rivers’ tenure in LA will always be remembered for their inability to advance past the second round of the playoffs.
In Philadelphia, it was more of the same, despite having multiple talented rosters. Rivers and the 76ers lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals during all three of his years there. Philadelphia fired him after the 2023 playoffs.
Before accepting the Milwaukee job, Rivers had spent time as part of ESPN’s lead broadcast team for NBA games.