The NBA didn't plan to hold an All-Star event this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic still being in effect. However, after countless discussions and game planning, the league change its mind. Now, on March 7, the NBA will host an all-in-one All-Star event in Atlanta, Georgia.
So far, we know a handful of members of the Philadelphia 76ers are set to participate. For the fourth-straight season, Sixers center Joel Embiid will start in the All-Star game at center. And now, as the Sixers sit in first place of the Eastern Conference, Doc Rivers and his coaching staff will also run Team Durant in a few weeks, the NBA announced on Friday night.
Considering the fact that the coaches from the top team in each conference get selected, Rivers is happy because his team is in good shape as we approach the halfway mark of the season. But when it comes to actually coaching in the event, let's just say Rivers isn't doing jumping jacks with excitement.
Before Friday night's Sixers versus Bulls matchup, Rivers was one win away from clinching his spot as the Eastern Conference's coaching representative in the All-Star game. "You know, I prefer to golf over All-Star break -- let me put it that way," Rivers said with a smile during his pregame press conference. "It's an honor because it means your team's doing well, so that's always good. That's the way I look at it."
Rivers then suggested that perhaps the NBA stops sending the coaches of the top teams in each conference and instead have those coaches have the opportunity to select which coach they want to see running the All-Star teams. If that were the case, Rivers says he'd pick San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich.
But that's not reality. A few hours later, the Sixers defeated the Bulls 112-105, making it official that Rivers will coach Team Durant in a few weeks. After the game, Rivers didn't know what to say about his accomplishment because he wanted to avoid running into any issues with the NBA due to his beliefs on the topic.
"Well, you know, I'm trying not to get in trouble so, I'm really happy for our team that we're in this position," Rivers said while laughing. "So, I think I'm going to stop there. That would be wise." Having to coach the actual event might not be ideal for Rivers, but at least he can be happy knowing his team remains the best in the conference at 20-10 through the first 30 games of the year.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_