Doc Rivers on Coaching his son Austin: "It was Different, it was Strange"

Doc and Austin Rivers discuss the positives and negatives of their father-son coaching relationship.
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When Doc and Austin Rivers became the first father-son coaching duo in NBA history, it wasn't well-received. The two were accused of nepotism for years, and the entire Clipper team was tumultuous throughout the time. Despite that, the experience wasn't all bad.

The father and son discussed their complicated and unique relationship on the GO OFF podcast

Interestingly enough, the trade for Austin Rivers wasn't all Doc's idea. The idea originated from former Clippers GM Dave Wohl.

"I've never had a dream of coaching my kids," Doc Rivers said to Austin. "I always wanted to be a parent. Just kind of watch critique, and send you texts. But Dave Wohl really kept pushing it. He had been pushing it for a good three to four months, even before the season."

When the moment happened, the two didn't know they would be making history together. They had assumed someone else had already been a father-son coaching duo.

"I never knew that it hadn't been done before," Doc Rivers said. "I actually thought George [Karl] had coached Coby... I thought it happened a couple of times."

"Never in my wildest imagination did I think I was going to make the NBA and play for you," Austin Rivers said to Doc. "I always thought it was a thing where we were going to compete against each other."

Regrettably for Austin, the Clipper locker room wasn't the best place to be in at the time. 

"Unfortunately you got thrown into a really funky locker room, which happens in our league," Doc Rivers said. "What put more spice on it was you being my son as well."

The combination of being the coach's son, and being in a disconnected locker room, is a recipe for a hard time. It's going to result in getting ostracized. 

"I'm not going to name any individuals but, there was some guys on that team... it was not the easiest situation to be placed in... anytime a coach's son is in a locker room, it's just different," Austin Rivers said."

It was a situation that Austin Rivers had never experienced throughout his entire life. He had always been the coach's son, but never had a dad who was a coach. The uncharted territory, combined with a detached locker room, put Austin in a situation he wasn't sure how to handle.

"That situation for me was just, every time I came into the locker room, every time I came into practice, I didn't know if guys were as open with me or not talking about certain things," Austin Rivers said. "I knew what it was."

Doc Rivers agreed that it wasn't the easiest time to be in the Clipper locker room. He had to push his players more than normal, because of that extra disconnect.

"When you've got a group that doesn't want to connect, then as a coach you've got to push more," Doc Rivers said. "You've got to get involved more. You also have to upset more."

Even though there were so many recipes for disaster, the entire experience wasn't completely negative. The father and son managed to develop their relationship in a way they weren't able to before.

"The positives, so much for me, outweigh the negatives," Austin Rivers said. "I think me and you became a lot closer. Prior to that, our relationship obviously was father-son, but it was mostly coach-son. We talked about basketball." 

The moment Doc and Austin became a coaching duo, it strangely gave Doc more time to be a father. The two only talked about basketball before, and now that time was reserved only for work. After work became more father-son time, instead of basketball time.

"It's crazy when you became my actual coach, we started talking about other things than basketball," Austin Rivers said. "Every day I went to work, you were my coach anyway. So then after that, you didn't have to be that anymore. I think that changed our relationship."

Doc and Austin Rivers have a relationship that very few people on this planet will understand. It's always interesting to witness their mix of competitive and family banter. They set the precedent for any other rare instances of a father-son coaching duo in the NBA.