Every time ex-Celtics coach Doc Rivers got thrown out of a game in Boston, and it seemed to happen a lot, the running joke on media row was that he had some motivation behind it — he was tired of watching a blowout, there was something he wanted to watch on TV, he just needed a nap, whatever.
And, as it turns out, there was some truth behind the bit, at least in one instance.
As Game 7 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros was just getting underway on Wednesday, Rivers met with the L.A. media before his Clippers hosted the Dallas Mavericks, and he was asked if he had any plans to get ejected in order to catch the broadcast, so the coach told the story of the time he tried to get thrown out of a game to watch Tiger Woods finish the Masters.
Well if Doc gets thrown out tonight, you know why. pic.twitter.com/fUHjQgadO3
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 2, 2017
“When I was coaching the Celtics, I think it was four games left in the season, and everything had been wrapped up as far as the playoffs. The Masters was on, and at halftime, Danny Ainge tells me that Tiger’s making a run. He said, ‘Get thrown out and come back and watch with me.’ So, I go out, and it’s like the first play in the third quarter. I go for it — like, yelling — and I want to say it was Jake O’Donnell, but I’m not sure who it was, and he just stares at me. Nothing. And then during a free throw, he tells me to come over, and he says, ‘I want to watch it, too.’ That’s a true story.”
It wasn’t Jake O’Donnell, who retired in 1995, but still — quality story.
Let’s see if we can figure this one out. Rivers assumed Celtics coaching duties in 2004, after three of Tiger’s four Masters wins, and the Celtics didn’t play on April 10, 2005, the last time Woods won the tournament. Besides, Tiger always won his majors playing from ahead, so we can rule the wins out.
Rivers mentioned “that little tunnel in Miami,” where Ainge was yelling, “What are you doing?” And sure enough, in 2011, when Woods shot a 31 on the front nine at Augusta to nab a share of the lead, the Celtics were playing the Heat in a late-afternoon game at American Airlines Arena. The referees were Tony Brothers, Michael Smith and Dan Crawford, and Rivers didn’t manage to get thrown out.
The Celtics did, however, get blown out, 100-77, by LeBron James and company. Boston was losing at halftime, 47-40, and got its doors blown off in the second half. It was the first year of Miami’s big three, and the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics had beaten them in all three of their previous meetings. This was the victory that swung the momentum in Miami’s favor that season.
As Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters afterward, “We proved we can beat them tonight. That’s about it, in my mind.” Added Dwyane Wade of the evening’s festivities: “It was a playoff-atmosphere type of game, from the fans to both teams’ approach to what the game meant. It had that feel.”
The playoff seeds were not set, either. In fact, the win helped the Heat leapfrog the Celtics with two games left in the season. Miami eventually secured the No. 2 seed and homecourt advantage in a second-round series against Boston, which ended in Miami in five games, thanks to Dwyane Wade injuring Rajon Rondo in Game 3. This doesn’t make Doc’s story quite as good, but hey, all is forgiven.
I don’t have a complete list of Doc’s ejections over his career, but thanks to a handy Pro Sports Transactions tool, we do know he’s been fined a handful of times for his conduct or failing to leave in a timely manner after being ejected. So, what was happening in the world of sports on those nights?
• March 5, 2002: Indiana Pacers 111, Orlando Magic 98. This is sports calendar dead zone, but it was the birthday of Eva Mendes, Joel Osteen, Penn Jillette and Andy Gibb, so he was just raising a toast?
• Dec. 2, 2005: Chicago Bulls 106, Celtics 102. Nothing was going on, really, but Rivers was home in Chicago, so he probably had reservations with some old buddies at his favorite steakhouse.
• January 11, 2010: Atlanta Hawks 102, Celtics 96. This was the day Simon Cowell left “American Idol.” We were all emotional that day, and apparently Rivers was especially so.
• January 28, 2011: Phoenix Suns 88, Celtics 71. This was the “Friday of Anger,” when thousands of Egyptians marched in protest of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Maybe Doc wasn’t a big Mubarak guy.
• November 29, 2016: Brooklyn Nets 127, Clippers 122. The New York City nightlife awaited, I guess.
Golf Digest also notes Rivers currently has a 9.9 handicap. Those early tee times can weigh on you.
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