Doc Rivers was nearly moved to tears by a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd during his first return to Boston since joining the Clippers over the summer.
"I'm still emotional. I thought the fans were," Rivers said, before pausing to take a breath and collect himself. "It was just a really nice day. This is just such a classy place, here. It was... really nice. When I walked out and, I'm not used to walking out on that [visitors] side, and all those guys, those people they lined up. I was basically useless for the first 18 minutes of the game, I thought."
The Point Forward posted video of Rivers receiving the standing ovation earlier Wednesday.
"That was just nice," Rivers continued. "It didn't surprise me because that's just the way -- you've got to live here to understand that. That's just the way they are. This is an amazing fanbase, it really is. I want everything to go well for them."
THOMSEN: Emotional return for Rivers against Celtics
The Celtics honored Rivers, who coached the team from 2004 until 2013, with a video tribute on the jumbotron. The two-minute presentation traced Rivers' tenure from start to finish, showing him throwing out the first pitch at a Red Sox game, posing with Rajon Rondo on draft night, celebrating Boston's 2008 title, enjoying a laugh with Celtics president Danny Ainge, participating in community service activities, hugging Paul Pierce and getting a celebratory Gatorade bath. The video ended with the simple words: "Thank you Doc!"
Rivers finally agreed to join the Clippers as a coach and front-office executive in June after a protracted, rumor-filled series of twists and turns about whether he would stay or go. Boston decided to dismantle its remaining core by trading Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in a draft day deal that was officially consummated in July.
The Associated Press added more game-day comments from Rivers.
''Coming to this building from the other side is surreal,'' Rivers told reporters before the game, listing a few of the people he was happy to see again. ''For nine years, they were my family. ... It's going to be emotional in that building.''
"Coming back here, that's special to me. I get to walk under a banner that I helped get and see the fans and a lot of my friends. This day and half has been a lot of fun, but it's also been emotional, too.''
L.A. defeated Boston 96-88 to improve to 15-8. Boston dropped to 10-14 with the loss.
Chris Paul scored a team-high 22 points (on 8-for-16 shooting) and registered nine assists. Jeff Green scored a game-high 29 points (on 10-for-23 shooting) and grabbed four rebounds in a losing effort.
Bottom video via YouTube user CLNSRadio